Asda, Matalan slated over poverty pay

6 October 2009 - 6:28pm

NEWS HOOK: Wednesday, 7 October 2009 World Decent Work Day

Clothes retailers head factory shame list

Asda and Matalan are today named as among the worst British retailers for trapping their overseas garment workers in poverty.

This accusation comes in a new report that cites their lack of any coherent strategy to ensure a living wage for people who make their clothes abroad.

The report (attached) claims there is no coherent strategy to ensure a living wage for workers making clothes for Asda and Matalan stores.

It also criticises nine other retailers for their failure to undertake any real work towards a decent wage - Bhs, Clarks, Debenhams, French Connection, John Lewis, River Island, Sainsbury's, Tesco and the Arcadia Group, which includes Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Topman, Topshop and Wallis.

The report - Let's Clean Up Fashion - is being launched today by campaign group Labour Behind the Label and anti-poverty charity War on Want.

It coincides with World Decent Work Day and a new campaign by trade unions and labour rights groups which demands a minimum living wage for all garment producing countries in Asia.

The campaign for an Asian floor wage seeks the same living wage throughout Asia to stop retailers driving down pay.

Research by War on Want found workers making clothes for Asda, Tesco and Primark in Bangladesh earned as little as 7p an hour for up to 80-hour weeks.

The new Let's Clean Up Fashion study shows that retailers taking some action to end poverty pay are Gap, Next, New Look and Monsoon Accessorize.

But the report says that none of the 25 UK high street brands yet pays workers a living wage.

Its author, Anna McMullen, from Labour Behind the Label, said: "Many companies fail to admit that the prices they place on clothing and their own buying practices are to blame for the poverty experienced by those who make our clothes. Global buyers have the power to threaten to relocate production in the search for ever-lower prices. The downward pressure on prices lead to poor wages and keeps garment workers in poverty."

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Exploitation is still rife in the fashion industry, and our high street companies are responsible for it. There needs to be proper regulation to ensure fair treatment for the workers who produce our clothes. The British government must act now to end this abuse."

War on Want has launched the biggest-ever campaign to win a living wage for overseas garment workers.

The new Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops drive aims to collect 50,000 names calling on British prime minister Gordon Brown to regulate the industry.

It has brought support from public figures such as Strictly Come Dancing star Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen, designer Betty Jackson and comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez.

People can add their names on the campaign's website at


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

Anna McMullen, the report's author at Labour Behind the Label (+44) (0)7786 832035

Supermarket watchdog needed now

6 October 2009 - 10:09am


Tesco announces quarterly results.

Government has less than 30 days to respond to the Competition Commission's recommendation for a supermarket ombudsman.

WHEN? 9.30 BST, Tuesday 6 October 2009

WHERE? Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET

WHAT? Campaigners representing a broad coalition of international development and environmental NGOs, including War on Want, Friends of the Earth, ActionAid, and Traidcraft are targeting the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. They are calling on the Secretary of State for Business, Lord Mandelson, to back the creation of a supermarket ombudsman that will protect suppliers from damaging trading practices, both at home and overseas.

HOW? Campaigners dressed as Tesco and Asda chiefs will stage a tug of war with gagged and bound farmers in the middle to show how suppliers in the UK and overseas are being squeezed by the unfair practices of our supermarkets.

Farmers - gagged and bound by supermarkets bullies - tell Mandelson: ‘Supermarket watchdog needed now!'

Consumer support for a supermarket watchdog culminates today as campaigners gather outside the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in London. Over 60,000 people have taken action to support better supermarket regulation and campaigners will today hand in the latest 4,000 action cards calling on Lord Mandelson to establish a watchdog to stop supermarkets bullying their suppliers.

Time is running out for Lord Mandelson to take a public stance on the watchdog, with less than 30 days remaining before the deadline for government to respond passes.

The action takes place on the day that Tesco releases its latest half-year sales figures. Last year the retail giant made record profits of more than £3 billion, yet continues to squeeze its suppliers with devastating impacts on farmers and workers both in the UK and overseas.

In April 2008, following a major two-year inquiry, the Competition Commission recommended an enhanced Code of Practice for supermarkets policed by an ombudsman to prevent the ‘transfer of excessive risk and unexpected costs' on to suppliers which, the Commission found, would reduce quality and choice for the nation's shoppers if left unchecked [1].

Major supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons rejected the opportunity to voluntarily sign up to an ombudsman. Now the decision is in the hands of the government.

A recent YouGov poll [2] shows that eight out of 10 shoppers support a supermarket watchdog, while over 180 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion backing the measure [3]. The Liberal Democrats endorsed the creation of an ombudsman at their party conference. Opposition leader David Cameron has also signalled his support for a watchdog, as has the Minister of State for Food, Farming and Environment, Jim Fitzpatrick.

Simon McRae, Senior Campaigns Officer at War on Want said: "Supermarkets in the UK are shamelessly opposing an independent watchdog that would prevent them bullying suppliers and investigate claims of abuse. The ball is now firmly in the Secretary of State's court to take on the supermarkets and back a watchdog."

Camilla Porter, Campaigns Manager at Traidcraft said: "This is the third inquiry into the groceries market in eight years which has found that supermarkets abuse their market position and suppliers and workers suffer as a result. The government should now follow the Competition Commission's recommendation and establish an ombudsman."

Helen Rimmer, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: "UK farmers are being gagged and bound by the supermarkets who bully them into submission and blacklist those that speak out. With more than 4,000 British farming jobs lost in each year, we urgently need a watchdog to protect farmers, the environment and rural communities."

Dominic Eagleton, Policy Officer at ActionAid said: "Supermarket practices result in a perverse transfer of wealth from farmers and workers in poor countries to retailers in the UK. The ombudsman is a sensible response to this problem, but the question still remains - will Lord Mandelson side with poor producers and British shoppers, or cave in to the supermarket giants?"



  • Simon McRae, War on Want Senior Campaigner 07779146043
  • Seb Klier, War on Want Campaigner 07969791949
  • Helen Rimmer, Food Campaigner. Friends of the Earth 07940006783
  • Camilla Porter, Campaigns Manager, Traidcraft 07810678828
  • Dominic Eagleton, Policy Officer, ActionAid 07796683205

1. The final report from the Competition Commission on the Groceries market can be found here:

2. YouGov interviewed 2,124 people for the poll between 20-24 November 2008. The survey was carried out online and all figures have been weighted to be representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

3. EDM 560 for a grocery market Ombudsman has been signed by 183 MPs.

Israel slammed for detention of human rights activist

25 September 2009 - 12:11pm

Charity calls for immediate release of Palestinian campaigner

The UK human rights charity War on Want has today called on the Israeli authorities to immediately release Mohammad Othman, a prominent Palestinian human rights activist arrested this week and currently being detained without charge.

Mr Othman, a 33-year-old human rights activist and advocate of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS), was arrested on 22 September on his return from Norway, where he was promoting a BDS campaign.

He is currently being held in administrative detention, not being told of the charges against him. The Israeli authorities have scheduled his hearing for Tuesday 29 September in a military court.

It is believed that Othman is the first Palestinian to be imprisoned by Israel in response to BDS advocacy activity.

War on Want today accused the Israeli government of targeting and intimidating Palestinian activists who are promoting boycott and sanctions movements against Israel.

Yasmin Khan, Senior Campaigns Officer at War on Want, said: "War on Want condemns the arrest and detention of Mohammad Othman by the Israeli authorities, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. It is unacceptable for Israel to be targeting Palestinian human right defenders with such intimidation."

Othman is involved with War on Want partner Stop the Wall, the grassroots anti-Apartheid Wall campaign, and has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to the defence of Palestinian human rights. His village, Jayyous, in the occupied West Bank, has lost most of its fertile agricultural land to Israel's illegal Wall and settlements.

For more information, please contact Yasmin Khan at War on Want on +44 (0)20 7549 0592.

Notes to Editors

1. War on Want has made representations about Mr Othman to the British Consul General in East Jerusalem, and to the Israeli embassy in London.

12 months on, finance still rules the world

24 September 2009 - 10:15am

Campaigners call for an end to bonus culture, tough rules on the City and a radical shake-up of IMF from Pittsburgh G20

Campaign groups today issued a sharp criticism of the G20's timid attempts to deal with the financial system in the wake of the economic crisis. UK anti-poverty and environment groups told G20 leaders meeting in Pittsburgh this weekend (1) that the opportunity to create a fairer world was slipping through their fingers.

Jubilee Debt Campaign, War on Want, World Development Movement, Friends of the Earth and the Bretton Woods Project (2) say that while Western leaders look for ‘green shoots', the vast majority of the world's population continues to suffer the impact of a crisis caused by the excesses of the financial sector.

They argue that without significant structural reform, any new growth will be unsustainable and volatile, deepening the inequalities in the global economy.

In particular, the groups are demanding action on five key areas:

1. Tough action to regulate the financial sector - including prohibitions and controls on speculation, derivatives trading, complex financial instruments, short-term or damaging investment, and, vitally, much stronger action to close down tax havens;

2. End the bonus culture - ending incentives for finance workers to create unsustainable lending and giving a fair wage for a fair day's work;

3. Radical reform of the global economy - most urgently the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions, ensuring they are democratic and accountable, and the creation of a debt tribunal to cancel unpayable and unjust Third World debts;

4. Massive investment in ‘Green Jobs' - both helping the UK economy to create sustainable growth, and assisting developing countries, through grant funding and technology transfer, to develop in a sustainable manner.

5. A currency transaction tax to curb bank profits and bonuses. As well as restraining bank excesses. Such a tax could generate billions for developing countries to use in the fight against poverty.

Ruth Tanner from War on Want said:

"The financial crisis has provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically overhaul the structures of global finance - to bring an end to the rule of the banks and the casino culture that has created the gross inequalities that characterise today's world. We need changes even bigger than those Roosevelt made as a result of the last Great Depression. Instead we are getting more of the same."

Nick Dearden from Jubilee Debt Campaign said:

"While millions of people suffer the results of a crisis that was not of their making, those who are responsible are allowed to go on behaving as if nothing has happened. The G20 have ignored radical calls for action from the developing world - to transform the global economy, cancel debts, and stop forcing free market fundamentalism onto the majority. History will not forgive the failure of the G20 to meet this challenge."

Asad Rehman from Friends of the Earth said:

"The alarm bells are ringing loudly - world leaders must wake up to the threat of catastrophic climate change and take urgent steps to slash emissions. The days of putting profit before people and the planet must end if we are to have any chance of a truly sustainable future. But it's not all doom and gloom. A new economic approach based on cutting energy waste and developing the world's vast green energy sources will create millions of new jobs and business opportunities, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and ensure a safer, cleaner future for us all."

Campaigners cited continued signs that the economic crisis is affecting millions of people and that reforms to date had done very little to create a more sustainable economy:

- Up to 60 million people could be thrown out of work by end of 2009, bringing total unemployment to 240 million, 90 million of them young people;

- 200 million workers, mostly in developing economies, are at risk of being pushed into poverty;

- An additional 700,000 babies are likely to die before their first birthday as a result of the crisis - with girls making up the vast majority of this figure;

- In the UK almost 2.5 million people are now jobless, nearly a million of them under 25;

- UNCTAD's chief economist stated recently: "All these rises in markets are said to reflect economic recovery but it is just another bubble... Banks have been rescued by the taxpayer and are just returning to casino-style speculation that brought us trouble in the first place."

- Adair Turner, Chair of the Financial Services Authority said on Tuesday that "British citizens will be burdened for many years with either higher taxes or cuts in public services - because of an economic crisis whose origins lay in the financial system, a crisis cooked up in trading rooms where not just a few but many people earned annual bonuses equal to a lifetime's earnings of some of those now suffering the consequences..... We need radical change."


For more information contact:

Nick Dearden, Jubilee Debt Campaign on 07932 335464

Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth on 077201 47280

Paul Collins, War on Want on 07983 550 728

Notes to Editors

1. The G20 is holding a special Heads of Summit meeting to discuss the economic crisis in Pittsburgh on 24 and 25 September. Gordon Brown is President of the G20, but US President Obama will chair this meeting. More information at:

2. Jubilee Debt Campaign, War on Want, Friends of the Earth, World Development Movement and Bretton Woods Project are leading members of the Put People First platform, formed in response to the financial crisis,

Stars back largest-ever ethical fashion drive

17 September 2009 - 6:07pm

London Fashion Week begins
BBC television starts new Strictly Come Dancing series

WHEN? 9.00 am BST, Friday, 18 September 2009
WHERE? Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
WHAT? War on Want launches its campaign Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops, backed by public figures including Strictly Come Dancing newcomer Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, film star Gael Garcia Bernal and designer Betty Jackson
HOW? Models parade in campaign T-shirts and carry LFHS placards at London Fashion Week's main venue, just before the first catwalk show opens there.
Stacey Dooley, a campaigner against clothes sweatshops since her appearance in the BBC television series Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts, will attend to support the launch.

TV campaigner Stacey joins Strictly's Jo Wood, Little Boots, Gael Garcia Bernal in sweatshops fight

War on Want and celebrities will seek public support today (Friday, 18 September) behind the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop fashion retailers exploiting overseas workers.

As London Fashion Week opens, the charity will unveil its new drive for 50,000 names demanding that UK prime minister Gordon Brown regulates the industry.

The initiative will be backed by Jo Wood, the former wife of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, hours before viewers see her debut when the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing returns to Britain's television screens.

The Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops push is also endorsed by pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and designer Betty Jackson, who stages her own catwalk show at Somerset House in London on Sunday (20 September).

Among other backers are television personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

Supportive public figures include 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.

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: "We want exploitation-free fashion which makes us look good without feeling bad. This campaign gives people a chance to make a real difference to the lives of workers who produce our clothes. Now is the time for the government to take action."

Models in campaign T-shirts and carrying Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops placards will launch the drive on a carpet at Somerset House minutes before the first catwalk show opens there as the curtain raiser to London Fashion Week.

Stacey Dooley, a campaigner against clothes sweatshops since her appearance in the BBC television series Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts, will attend to support the launch.

In the series she lived and worked alongside people in India making clothes for UK high street retailers.

According to War on Want research, workers making clothes for Primark, Tesco and Asda factories in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka received on average only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half a living wage. Some employees were paid only the minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month, far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed to escape dire hardship.

The vast majority of employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities.Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh, employees said they were made to toil extra hours, often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet the Dhaka workers said none of their factories was unionised.

Lina earns just £16 (1850 taka) a month, toiling 12 hours a day producing Tesco clothes.

"It is not enough," she said. "I can only afford to live in one room with my husband, two-year-old boy and mother-in-law."

Ifat, who toils in a factory supplying Primark, Tesco and Asda, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."

Jo Wood, shocked by garment workers' hardship when she visited Dhaka with a further LFHS backer, fair trade fashion company People Tree, said: "The conditions that they lived in in the slums were appalling: the rubbish, the smell and the poverty. Up to six people live in a tin room on bamboo stilts above heaps of rubbish. Yet I was humbled by the people and their attitudes."

Little Boots said: "I love fashion, but loathe how some retailers deny a living wage to the people who make their clothes, condemning them to a lifetime of misery and poverty. Join the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign and help stop high street chains stitching up their workers."

Jack Dromey said: "Global economic crisis threatens the most vulnerable, with a race to the bottom. But shoppers in British high streets will not accept modern day slavery in sweatshops producing cheap clothes. Reputable retailers should insist on high standards. Rogue retailers will be exposed if they try to take advantage."

People Tree director Safia Minney said: "The government must work with local partners to review a living wage in developing countries. They must increase funding of initiatives that promote responsible consumerism and awareness and start to hold companies legally accountable for human rights violations overseas committed in their name."

Another supporter, Livia Firth, founder of ethical retailer Eco Age, said: "I love fashion and am trying my best to wear only garments from designers who are sweatshop free. I hope this campaign will encourage both consumers like me and designers and producers to always make sure that what we wear comes from a chain of production which is 100% fair."

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

TUC Israel vote 'wakeup call to Brown'

17 September 2009 - 3:59pm


War on Want welcomes historic TUC vote for Israel boycott

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today welcomed the decision by the TUC to support Palestinian civil society's call for boycott, divestment and sanction tactics to be used against Israel until it complies with international law.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Over the last 60 years Israel has continuously acted in defiance of UN resolutions, international law and global outrage. Yet the international community has failed to act to stop Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people. Instead the British government amongst others has rewarded Israeli aggression with financial, military and diplomatic support.

"The trade union movement has taken a courageous decision today to stand up against this injustice, just like it stood up to racist South Africa in the anti-apartheid movement.

"This is a wake up call to Downing Street that there can be no more business as usual with Israel. A ban on trade with illegal settlements and a two-way arms embargo with Israel must be implemented immediately."


  • Boycott, divestment and sanctions were widely used in the anti-apartheid movement. Palestinian civil society in 2005 launched its call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, with the initial endorsement of over 170 Palestinian organisations. War on Want works closely with the Palestinian Boycott National Committee and has supported the BDS call since its inception.
  • Boycotts can be consumer, sporting, cultural and academic. The primary target in the UK has been the boycott of consumer goods produced in Israel. With a particular focus on fresh produce grown in Israel's illegal West Bank settlements. British supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's continue to sell settlement produce, despite doubts over the legal status of these products.
  • Divestment means targeting corporations which are complicit in the occupation and ensuring universities, pensions or other public money is not invested in such companies. War on Want in 2006 published its groundbreaking report Profiting from the Occupation, which called for divestment from companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
  • Sanctions are also an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country's actions. War on Want is currently demanding the UK government impose the sanction of an arms embargo with Israel and suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which gives Israel preferential trade access to European markets.

Brown slated on G20 crisis talks

4 September 2009 - 10:31am



London, Friday-Saturday 4-5 September 2009
Finance ministers from G20 group of the world's most powerful economies meet in London
"Stop letting money rule the world" protest by campaigners

‘UK blocks to reform undermine global action'

British prime minister Gordon Brown today faced heavy criticism for his resistance to reforms on bank bonuses, tax dodging and the financial system amid the global economic crisis.

The charity War on Want launched the attack as British chancellor Alistair Darling and other finance ministers gather for London talks in the G20 group of the world's most powerful economies.

War on Want slams Brown's refusal to take action on bank regulation, including on bonuses for UK bank executives, which reports suggest will reach a record £4 billion this year, despite bailouts costing billions of taxpayers' money.

The charity also denounces his refusal to instigate British government steps against tax dodges that cost developing countries an estimated £250 billion a year and £100 billion a year for Britain - enough to double funding for the health service.

Brown faces further censure over rejecting the proposal by Lord Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, for a tax on foreign currency transactions which would raise billions of pounds for developing countries.

And the PM is condemned for sticking to free market policies that War on Want says caused the crisis and now threaten to throw millions more people into unemployment in poor countries and Britain.

The International Labour Organisation estimates 239 million people worldwide will be jobless this year - up a third compared to the 2007 level - with youth unemployment rising by up to 18 million to 90 million.

War on Want executive director John Hilary said: "Gordon Brown is becoming the abominable no man. Each time there is a new proposal that would reform the economic system, the UK government says no to it. It is time that the PM let go of the failed policies which caused the crisis in favour of measures that will ensure a fair system for all."


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



10.30-11.15 am BST, Friday 4 September 2009


North junction between Leadenhall Street and St Mary Axe, London EC3 3DQ‎ (view of City landmark the Gherkin skyscraper)


War on Want campaigners and others from the Put People First coalition, in G20 leaders' masks and suits, hold cash-laden throne, warning "Stop letting money rule the world". The activists, backed by money-themed music, will then go on a walking tour of City institutions which the coalition blames for the crisis along with the G20 leaders. The coalition is demanding greater investment in public services, new jobs through a green global economy and steep emission cuts for developed nations at the UN summit in Copenhagen later this year. Put People First includes over 100 development charities, trade unions, environmental, faith and anti-poverty groups.


G20 urged to avert global disaster

2 September 2009 - 12:05pm


London, Friday-Saturday 4-5 September 2009

Finance ministers from G20 group of the world's most powerful economies meet in London

"Stop letting money rule the world" call by campaigners in G20 leaders' masks and suits, backed by money-themed music

Activists warn of job losses and climate chaos

10.30-11.15 am BST, Friday 4 September 2009

North junction between Leadenhall Street and St Mary Axe, London EC3 3DQ‎ (view of City landmark the Gherkin skyscraper)

Campaigners from the Put People First coalition, in G20 leaders' masks and suits, hold cash-laden throne, warning "Stop letting money rule the world". The activists, backed by money-themed music, will then go on a walking tour of City institutions which the coalition blames for the crisis along with the G20 leaders.

Protestors wearing G20 leaders' masks and suits next week (Friday, 4 September) will call for new policies to protect the livelihoods of millions of people amid the growing world economic crisis. (see attached briefing)

Campaigners from the coalition Put People First, representing over 10 million people, will hold aloft a throne laden with huge bags of cash and unfurl a banner calling on the G20 to "Stop letting money rule the world", backed by money-themed music.

The protest will come as British chancellor Alistair Darling and other finance ministers begin two-day London talks in the run-up to the G20 leaders' summit on the crisis in Pittsburgh on 24-25 September.

The coalition says that by sticking to the free market practices which caused the global slump, the G20 would condemn millions more people to unemployment and condemn the planet to devastating climate change.

The International Labour Organisation estimates 239 million people worldwide will be jobless this year - up a third compared to the 2007 level - with youth unemployment rising by up to 18 million to 90 million.

But the coalition says such job losses can be avoided by new economic policies designed to put people before corporate profits.

Put People First calls for a crackdown on tax havens. Britain loses an estimated £100 billion a year in tax dodges - enough to double funds for the health service. And unpaid tax costs the developing world £250 billion a year.

The coalition is also demanding greater investment in public services, new jobs through a green global economy and steep emission cuts for developed nations at the UN summit in Copenhagen later this year.

John Hilary, executive director at the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: "The G20 has done nothing to address the root causes of the global economic crisis. Despite the fact that lax regulation of banks led to the financial meltdown, G20 leaders are now calling for more deregulation of financial markets through the Doha round of world trade talks. It is time to call an end to the free market fundamentalism which has caused so much poverty and suffering in the world."

Jubilee Debt Campaign director Nick Dearden said: "The financial system has delivered economic and environmental chaos. No wonder that people and governments around the world are demanding change. But change that works for all countries and people will only come when all countries and people are involved in setting the rules. We need a radical democratisation of the economic and financial system - a global economy of the people, by the people, for the people."

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: "The recession isn't over for the millions of people here and around the world who are without jobs or worried about losing them. There is more to be done by the world's leaders and finance ministers if we are to build a sustainable recovery with decent work for all. Getting back to business as usual isn't good enough because it just means another recession round the corner."

Asad Rehman, senior climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "Developed nations are responsible for most of the carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution - and have grown very rich in doing so. Developing nations are far smaller per capita polluters, yet many of them are at the forefront of the devastating consequences of climate change. Rich industrialised countries must stop playing Russian roulette with the future of the planet and make a clear commitment to compensate poorer nations for the full costs of adapting to climate change, and fund the transition to low carbon infrastructure in the developing world."


  • After the picture/audio/interview opportunity, campaigners in masks and suits, backed by money-themed music, will tour City institutions which the coalition blames for the crisis along with the G20 leaders. Activists will meet outside Liverpool Street rail station next to McDonalds, 50 Liverpool Street London London EC2M 7PD. Tour stops include: Royal Bank of Scotland, 250 Bishopsgate, EC2M4 AA. ETF Securities, 2 London Wall Buildings London, London EC2M 5UU. European Climate Exchange, 62 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AW. International Financial Services London, 29-30 Cornhill, London EC3V 3NF. Barclays Bank, 54 Lombard Street, London EC3P 3AH. Willis Building, 51 Lime Street, London EC3M 7DQ.
  • Put People First includes over 100 development charities, trade unions, environmental, faith and anti-poverty groups.


Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728Nick Dearden, Jubilee Debt Campaign director (+44) (0)20 7324 4722 (+44) (0)7932 335464
Liz Chinchen, head of TUC European Union and international relations (+44) (0)20 7467 1325 or (+44) (0)7788 715261
Neil Verlander, Friends of the Earth press officer (+44) (0)20 7566 1649 or (+44) (0)7712 843209
Kate Blagojevic, World Development Movement press officer (+44) (0)20 7820 4913 or (+44) (0)7711 875345
Jesse Griffiths, Bretton Woods Project coordinator (+44) (0)20 7561 7546 or (+44) (0)7968 041747

Brown pressed to tax banks for poor

27 August 2009 - 2:49pm

Activists welcome call for Tobin tax

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today demanded that British prime minister Gordon Brown acts on backing for a tax on foreign currency transactions by Lord Turner, chairman of the Finance Services Authority.

Executive director John Hilary said: "War on Want welcomes Lord Turner's support for a Tobin tax to curb bank profits and bonuses. As well as restraining bank excesses, such a tax could generate billions for developing countries to use in the fight against poverty. We call on Gordon Brown to implement this tax as an urgent measure amid the growing world economic crisis."

A currency transactions tax at 0.005% on the four major currencies of sterling, the euro, the US dollar and the Japanese yen would generate £20 billion annually, according to research published by War on Want and the United Nations University.

A similar tax on sterling alone would generate £3 billion a year.

In the last decade War on Want has led the campaign for a Tobin tax.

It is named after the American economist James Tobin, who first proposed the tax over 30 years ago.

Hilary chairs the Stamp Out Poverty campaign, successor to the Tobin Tax Network.

Plans for self-regulation of UK mercenaries slammed following killings in Iraq

10 August 2009 - 3:15pm

NEWS HOOK Monday, 10 August 2009 -- Reports that a security contractor working for British private military company ArmorGroup shot dead two colleagues in Iraq

Charity calls for tough legislation to curb abuses

Today War on Want demanded that the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband scrap proposals for UK private military companies to police themselves or risk further killings in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The warning follows reports that a security contractor working for British private military company ArmorGroup shot dead two colleagues, one Australian and one British, and injured an Iraqi in Baghdad.

In a public consultation, which concluded in July, the UK government rejected all the available regulatory options for private military and security companies and recommended self-regulation for the industry despite calls from British MPs on the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee for strict curbs on these firms.

War on Want has spearheaded the campaign for tough legislation, including a ban on mercenaries' use in combat and combat support.

Ruth Tanner, Campaigns and Policy Director, War on Want said "These killings are a reminder of the havoc which private military and security companies have wreaked in Iraq over the past six years. The British government has responded by suggesting that mercenaries police themselves leaving civilians in war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq exposed to further abuse."

The charity points to the hundreds of human rights abuses which have involved UK and US private armies in Iraq and Afghanistan. These include:

  • the wounding of two Iraqi civilians when mercenaries from the UK company Erinys International fired on a cab near Kirkuk.
  • mercenaries with the US firm Blackwater, now renamed Xe, shooting at and killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.
  • mercenaries working for the NATO coalition shooting the Kandahar police chief and nine of his officers in Afghanistan.

Over the last three years, the UK has spent more than £148 million on contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

ArmorGroup has been one of the British Government's favoured private military contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan.


War on Want led the call for control over private military companies when the charity launched its report Corporate Mercenaries.

  • A year later, War on Want stepped up its drive after the Blackwater and Erinys shootings.
  • In December 2007, the charity published the briefing paper Getting Away with Murder. It cited reporters of hundreds of human rights violations by mercenary troops in Iraq to strengthen its campaign for curbs, including a ban on mercenaries' use in combat.
  • In February last year War on Want launched a legal challenge on the British government over its failure to ensure democratic control over private armies.
  • Last July the charity accused the UK of blocking regulation after a document, acquired under freedom of information laws, revealed ministers went close to launching pre-legislative consultation.

CONTACT: Ruth Tanner, War on Want (+44) (0)20 7549 0583 or (+44) (0)7811469547



Join the conversation

RT @TatGaravito: “Justice for indigenous communities in Colombia means looking back at the legacy of colonialism and acting based on the ju… 1 day 2 hours ago
NOW: Our partners in parliament with @HumanRightsAPPG and @ABColombia1 - Colombia Securing Peace: Women's Achieveme… 1 day 2 hours ago
Next week: Disrupt the #MinesAndMoney conference in London! Join activists from Uganda, Philippines and Colombia in… 1 day 17 hours ago