News

‘Tax banks to save public services'

22 March 2010 - 12:49pm

British chancellor Alistair Darling today faces pressure to impose a tax on banks' currency transactions to stave off cuts in public services and to raise money for overseas development.

Show comics will have you in stitches

23 February 2010 - 3:30pm

Stars raise funds for sweatshops, poverty campaigns

A galaxy of leading comedians next week aims to have their audience in stitches with a show to help fight for global justice, including workers on poverty wages making clothes for British stores.

Three of the magazine Time Out's readers' top 10 comedians will raise laughs and cash in the show for the charity War on Want at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in London on 4 March.

Proceeds from the event will boost War on Want campaigns, such as Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops, the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop UK retailers abusing overseas garment workers.

Other campaigns to benefit from the show will include the charity's drives against tax dodging, trade injustice, private armies, unemployment amid the world financial crisis and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Stewart Lee, second in the Time Out list and writer and director behind the award-winning comic musical Jerry Springer: The Opera, tops the charity's bill.

Also booked for the event is Janey Godley, rated third best among Time Out readers, a prize-winning humorist who makes regular appearances on the BBC Radio 4 panel game Just a Minute.

And the charity's show will include Terry Saunders, ninth in Time Out's poll, a hit on five national BBC radio stations.

Another favourite on the bill will be Ed Byrne, a guest on TV programmes such as Have I Got News for You, who will make his debut in the new BBC2 series The Bubble on Friday (26 February).

The War on Want lineup also features Arsenal football supporter Ian Stone, who has appeared in the BBC Radio 5 Live sports panel show Fighting Talk and on TV's Mock the Week.

Sharing the limelight will be Dan Antopolski, who has won the BBC New Comedy Award and the 2009 prize for the best joke at the Edinburgh festival fringe.

Completing the bill will be prizewinning standup Andy Zaltzman, who co-hosted Radio 4's satirical series Political Animal and co-produces a weekly comic podcast for the Times newspaper online.

The show will be compered by Ivor Dembina, who is now touring his show This Is Not a Subject for Comedy about Israel and Palestine.

Stefanie Pfeil, fundraising director at War on Want, said: "Our strongest comedy lineup will guarantee a great night out for a great cause. We urge people who love a laugh and care about poverty to join us."

Doors open at 7.00 pm for the show, which starts at 7.30 pm.

People can book tickets, priced £20 and £15, at www.waronwant.org or www.ticketweb.co.uk or on 0844 477 2000.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

 

High street 'shame' hits fashion week

19 February 2010 - 12:25pm

London Fashion Week launches today amid claims that overseas garment workers are exploited producing clothes for British stores involved in the event's first-ever joint catwalk show presented by high street retailers.

‘Tackle bankers' greed to fight poverty'

8 February 2010 - 11:00pm

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today called on the leaders of Britain's political parties to turn bailed out bankers' greed into help for the developing world through a new tax on financial transactions.

Primark roasted on winter sales ‘abuse'

14 January 2010 - 11:27am

NEWS PEG: Thursday, 14 January 2010 Cold weather fuels big Primark sales rise


Retailer attacked over poverty pay workers

Cheap fashion retailer Primark is today accused of profiting from increased sales amid Britain's icy winter while leaving workers who produce its clothes out in the cold.

The attack came as Primark's parent company, Associated British Foods, announced recent sales by the fashion retailer exceeded its expectations.

Primark sales rose by 19 per cent in the 16 weeks to 2 January.

But amid bumper warm clothes sales in the chilly weather, Primark garment workers remain frozen out of its success, the charity War on Want claims.

It said people making Primark clothes overseas struggled to survive on poverty pay.

Last month the charity's research showed that workers toiled up to 84 hours a week and earned as little as £19 a month - less than half a living wage - making Primark clothes in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

And its report on three Primark factories in the same city just over a year ago revealed workers earning as little as 7p an hour for up to 80-hour weeks.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Shareholders will give a warm reception to Primark's latest sales triumph. But these figures will get a cool response from people in suppliers' factories abroad. It is high time Gordon Brown acted to ensure decent treatment for overseas workers producing clothes for Primark and other UK stores."

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

 


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This webpage has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this webpage are the sole responsibility of War on Want and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

 

Supermarket watchdog plan wins two cheers

13 January 2010 - 2:33pm

NEWS PEG - Wednesday, 13 January 2010 Government accepts the need for a supermarket ombudsman


Charity presses Mandelson for urgent appointment

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today welcomed the British government's announcement after long delay that ministers have accepted the need for a supermarket ombudsman to police retailers' behaviour towards suppliers.

The charity hailed the statement after its four years of campaigning for government regulation on supermarkets, but sought evidence that ministers will introduce tough curbs to halt supermarkets' abuse of suppliers.

War on Want expressed concern that the government's announcement of further consultation will delay the urgent need for a watchdog.

The charity asked for government assurance that the ombudsman would not let supermarkets off the hook over abuse.

It urged ministers to indicate the length of the consultation, whether the ombudsman would have independence, as well as its structure, operation and powers, including whether the body will cover overseas and non-food suppliers.

War on Want stressed the Competition Commission had already taken long and wide soundings before its proposal for a body to control supermarkets' relationship with suppliers.

Simon McRae, the charity's senior campaigns officer, said: "At last the government has acknowledged the need for a supermarket ombudsman amid many suppliers' complaints of abuse. But Mandelson must now minimise its delay and ensure the watchdog is independent, robust and has the authority to prevent stores exploiting overseas workers."

Over 200 cross-party MPs signed a parliamentary early day motion calling for an independent ombudsman.

The Conservatives have promised to establish a watchdog if they win the coming election.

It would, however, lie within the Office of Fair Trading, which War on Want says has failed to stand up to supermarkets.

According to War on Want, many South Africans earn well below a living wage on farms supplying fruit and wine to UK supermarkets.

The charity's research has also revealed that Kenyan and Colombian workers face poverty pay supplying flowers to British supermarkets.

War on Want is demanding that a watchdog should extend beyond agriculture to all sectors, including clothes suppliers.

The charity has revealed workers making garments for Tesco and Asda in Bangladesh receive only half a living wage.

Yesterday Tesco announced its best Christmas sales in three years, with strong non-food sales, especially clothes.


NOTE TO EDITORS: War on Want also welcomed the government's recognition that a watchdog would not affect consumer prices. The charity has cited research by economist Roger Clarke which found the ombudsman would not only protect suppliers, but would cost supermarkets just 0.005% of turnover, improve products, and, in some cases like agricultural products, lower prices.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

 

 


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This webpage has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this webpage are the sole responsibility of War on Want and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

 

Mandelson pressed on stores watchdog

4 January 2010 - 9:47pm

NEWS HOOK: Conservatives promise to appoint a supermarket ombudsman


Abuse campaign grows after Tory pledge

Business secretary Lord Mandelson today faced mounting pressure to establish a supermarket ombudsman amid a Conservative pledge to appoint a watchdog that would protect suppliers from abuse.

The anti-poverty charity War on Want called on Mandelson to act after shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert announced that a future Tory government would appoint a supermarket ombudsman.

Herbert will deliver the promise in a speech tomorrow at the Oxford Farming conference.

The charity welcomes the pledge as a step towards a fair deal for overseas workers who supply British stores.

According to War on Want, many South Africans earn well below a living wage on farms supplying fruit and wine to UK supermarkets.

The charity's research has also revealed that Kenyan and Colombian workers face poverty pay supplying flowers to British supermarkets.

War on Want is demanding that a watchdog should extend beyond agriculture to all sectors, including clothes suppliers.

The charity has revealed workers making garments for Tesco and Asda in Bangladesh receive only half a living wage.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Supermarkets in the UK are shamelessly exploiting overseas workers who supply produce sold by their stores.

"While the government fails to do anything about the abuse of suppliers, even the Conservatives now recognise the need for action. The government must introduce a watchdog as an urgent priority."

Research by leading economist Roger Clarke found the ombudsman would not only protect suppliers.

It would also cost supermarkets just 0.005% of turnover, improve products, and, in some cases like agricultural products, lower prices.

And eight in 10 shoppers want a watchdog, according to a YouGov poll.

War on Want has led moves for a supermarket ombudsman with other groups, backed by more than 60,000 people who have taken action to strengthen the drive.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

 

 


EC_logo

This webpage has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this webpage are the sole responsibility of War on Want and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

 

‘Stop companies’ overseas abuse’ government told

15 December 2009 - 5:03pm

NEWS PEG: Wednesday, 16 December 2009 MPs, peers criticise British government over UK firms' overseas human rights abuse


Firms watchdog call over MPs, peers concern

The British government today faces pressure to establish a new independent watchdog to police UK companies abusing human rights. The pressure comes from the anti-poverty charity War on Want as MPs and peers criticised ministers' failure to tackle firms which commit human rights violations abroad.

In the report of its inquiry, the joint select committee on human rights agreed the government has no coherent strategy and "gives undue priority to voluntary initiatives".

War on Want senior campaigns officer Simon McRae said: "British companies continue to commit serious human rights abuses across the world. Yet the government's only response is to come up with voluntary initiatives which companies are free to ignore. When will ministers take real action to hold these companies to account?"

The committee launched the report only hours after the charity handed into Downing Street over 16,000 names of people who demand that British prime minister Gordon Brown regulates stores which abuse garment workers. War on Want has published research which shows that Bangladeshi workers making clothes for Primark, Tesco and Asda toil up to 80 hours a week and earn as little as half a living wage.

The MPs and peers singled out for criticisms the government's resent consultation over private military companies, which proposes a voluntary code of conduct for the industry, despite hundreds of reports of human rights abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq.

War on Want is spearheading the campaign for tough legislation over mercenaries, including a ban on their use in combat and combat support.

Last week the charity attacked the government's voluntary guidance on supermarkets' trade in goods from illegal Israeli settlements and called for a total ban on sales. War on Want says UK companies are complicit in human rights abuses committed against the Palestinian people.

The charity's evidence of human rights abuses committed by UK corporations submitted to the committee also included:

  • British mining corporations operating in conflict zones overseas. The abuses highlighted include violence and intimidation of local people by paramilitaries and police, arbitrary arrests, physical violence, extrajudicial killings, destruction of houses and the forced displacement of local communities.
  • UK banks' financing of the arms trade, with many high street banks supporting the arms industry, despite their claims to be acting responsibly.
  • Human rights abuses suffered by workers supplying goods for high street retailers. Besides garment workers, these include flower and wine workers supplying British supermarkets. The abuses concerned include physical and verbal harassment, severe breaches of health and safety standards, intimidation and imprisonment of trade unionists, denial of the right to protest, excessive working hours and poverty pay.

NOTE TO EDITORS:

  • The committee's report encourages the UK government to explore the proposal for a commission for business, human rights and the environment.
  • War on Want plays a leading role in the Corporate Responsibility (CORE) coalition, an alliance of civil society groups, voluntary groups and trade unions.

Jo Wood leads No 10 sweatshops drive

14 December 2009 - 5:59pm

Thousands tell PM to halt clothes abuse

Television star Jo Wood and schoolgirls hand in a giant multicolour T-shirt which shows their photographs among pictures of many of the thousands of people behind the campaign Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops.

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Television star Jo Wood and schoolgirls today handed into Downing Street a huge T-shirt with their photographs among pictures of many of thousands of people behind a campaign against sweatshop fashion.

Jo - shocked by garment workers' hardship when she visited Bangladesh with fair trade fashion company and campaign backer People Tree - helped lead the handin.

The 14-year-old pupils - Nabila Bakar, Amine Aras and Nishat Tasnim - came from the 1400-student Mulberry girls' school in London's East End, which hosted a model United Nations conference on child labour and sweatshops after students backed the campaign.

The Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign, organised by the charity War on Want, is the biggest-ever call for the British government to stop retailers, including supermarkets, exploiting overseas workers in developing countries.

It has also won support from pop singer Little Boots, actors Chloë Sevigny, Gael García Bernal and Ashley Jensen, and clothes designer Betty Jackson. Other backers include TV personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

Supportive public figures include Glenis Willmott, Labour leader in the European parliament, Fiona Hall, European leader for the Liberal Democrats, Green party leader Caroline Lucas, Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner, president of the GMB union, Queen's Counsel Michael Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.

Last week the charity's research showed that workers making Primark clothes in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka toil up to 84 hours a week and can earn as little as £19 a month - less than half a living wage.

And War on Want last December published another study which revealed that workers faced worse living standards than two years earlier amid similar exploitation in six Dhaka factories producing clothes for Primark, Tesco and Asda.

War on Want executive director John Hilary said: "Cheap fashion modelled on catwalk styles comes with a high price for garment workers in terrible pay and conditions. Retailers have broken their pledges to ensure them decent treatment. Now Gordon Brown must act to halt this abuse."


NOTES TO EDITORS: The charity's latest Primark research is at www.waronwant.org/news/press-releases/16730-new-sweatshop-row-hits-primark Its 2008 study Fashion Victims II is at www.waronwant.org/campaigns/supermarkets/fashion-victims/inform/16360-fashion-victims-ii

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

Image credit: Jon Spaull

Advice on settlers' goods slated

10 December 2009 - 6:54pm

Charity demands supermarkets trade ban

British ministers today came under fire over new voluntary guidance on supermarkets' trade in produce from Israeli settlement farms.

The anti-poverty charity War on Want attacked the government's failure to take stronger action that would end the sale of settlement goods.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "By selling produce from Israeli settlements, British supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose are profiting from Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

"Voluntary advice on labelling fails to deal with the issue. The government should impose an immediate and total ban on the sale of settlement goods in Britain.

"The government's position is utterly contradictory. Ministers call settlements obstacles to peace, yet sustain their existence by allowing UK retailers to trade with them."

The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issued the guidance over three years after the charity first highlighted the matter in a report that named supermarkets which sold goods from illegal Israeli settlements.

The report said the government risked charges of complicity in Israel's breaches of international law.

The new advice says the settlements flout article 49 (6) of the 1949 fourth Geneva convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own civilian population into occupied territory.

It adds that settlements make the establishment of a viable Palestinian state more difficult and that Israel has not yet met its duties under political agreements on freezing all settlement activity.

The government says traders and retailers may wish to indicate whether the product originated from an Israeli settlement or from Palestinian producers.

This could take the form, for example, of "Produce of the West Bank (Israeli settlement produce)" or "Produce of the West Bank (Palestinian produce)".

The government considers traders would mislead consumers and almost certainly commit an offence if they declare produce from the occupied Palestinian territories (including from the West Bank) as "Produce of Israel".

This would apply whether the goods were from a Palestinian producer or from an Israeli settlement in the territories.


NOTES TO EDITORS

  • War on Want's report Profiting from the Occupation is at www.waronwant.org/campaigns/fighting-occupation/palestine/inform/12573-profiting-from-the-occupation
  • The US president Barack Obama, the United Nations and the European Union have made repeated calls on Israel to halt its settlements expansion and condemned them as a barrier to peace in the region
  • Britain is a leading market for exports of Israeli fresh agricultural produce and the biggest market for state-owned Israeli company Agrexco.
  • Agrexco has become a target for activists in the UK over its business in the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

 

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