News

UN report shows need for business curbs

28 March 2007 - 11:37am

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today called on the British government to take action to regulate corporate human rights abuses on the eve of a new United Nations report into business and human rights.

Growing Pains: The human cost of cut flowers in British supermarkets

15 March 2007 - 1:07pm

Mothers Day flowers shame UK stores

Women workers damage health growing bouquets for British Supermarkets

Agrexco-Carmel demonstration

10 February 2007 - 3:30pm

 

10 February 2007: Agrexco-Carmel depot, Middlesex

Agrexco, known under the brand name of Carmel in the UK, is Israel's largest exporter of fresh agricultural produce.

The UK market accounts for 60% of all Israeli vegetable exports, and there has been a dramatic increase in British sales over the past few years.

Agrexco-Carmel demonstration 2

British MPs issue sanctions call on Israel

30 January 2007 - 2:58pm

The UK parliament's International Development Committee calls on the British government to press for sanctions against Israel over its treatment of the Palestinian people, in a new report published today.

Stores probe shows need for law

23 January 2007 - 6:13pm

The charity War on Want today pressed the British government to regulate how supermarkets treat overseas suppliers after a new report from the Competition Commission failed to address this issue.

Stars bid for MidEast peace

18 January 2007 - 4:34pm

First broad-based coalition opens new campaign

Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 11.00 am Wilson Room, Portcullis House, Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2LW

'UK anti-poverty ministry hits poor'

8 September 2006 - 5:06pm

Millions paid from aid programme to US power firms

Power station

The government ministry that leads Britain's fight against global poverty is using millions of pounds in taxpayers' money for electricity privatisation which raises prices beyond the pockets of the poor.

This charge came today from the charity War on Want in a new report on the power company Globeleq, which is wholly owned by the Department for International Development (DFID) through CDC, its private sector promotion arm. Globeleq has paid hundreds of millions of pounds to US power firms that wanted to withdraw from the developing world. Two such companies, AES and El Paso, have benefited by over US$1 billion.

One in four of the world's population, or 1.6 billion people, lack access to electricity - two-thirds of them in Asia, with most of the rest in sub-Saharan Africa. The International Energy Agency estimates that electricity services must be rolled out to a further 600 million people by 2015 in order to meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day.

Globeleq operates in 16 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is pursuing further acquisitions in a bid to be 'the fastest growing power company in the emerging markets'. But, according to the report, rather than helping to widen electricity coverage to poor communities, privatisation has brought sharp tariff increases which many people cannot afford. Since Globeleq took over the national grid in Uganda last year, domestic customers have faced price rises of 70 per cent for their electricity.

The arrival of multinational companies such as AES, Enron and EDF in developing countries during the 1990s saw dramatic price rises in electricity. When the Indian state of Maharashtra opened its power sector to Enron, this forced the state electricity board to extend farmers' tariffs by a crippling 400 per cent to meet extra costs. Electricity privatisation led to higher tariffs in the Dominican Republic and left the government with more than US$135 million in debts to private firms.

Last year international development secretary Hilary Benn said Britain would no longer make privatisation a condition of its assistance to developing countries. Yet 40 per cent of UK aid goes through multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which continue to impose harmful conditions such as privatisation.

World Bank commentators have admitted privatisation entails significant price rises and their impact will fall especially hard on the poor. Yet DFID has announced it will channel a record £1.3 billion of UK aid through the World Bank over the next three years.

War on Want Chief Executive Louise Richards said: "DFID's mandate is to reduce poverty. But the promotion of privatisation through initiatives like Globeleq hurts poor people. We call on the government to stop advancing the privatisation of public services and to help developing countries build genuine solutions to poverty.

"The British government last year promised to drop conditions such as privatisation on its overseas aid. Yet DFID has announced that it will channel a record £1.3 billion of UK assistance through the World Bank in the next three years. We urge the government to withhold its contributions to the World Bank and IMF until these institutions stop imposing harmful conditions such as privatisation on the poor."


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

Roger Waters graffitis the Israeli Wall in Palestine

21 June 2006 - 5:02pm

Roger Waters, founding member of super group Pink Floyd, has visited the East Jerusalem village of Abu Dis ahead of his performance in the Arab/Israeli Peace Village today. He called for an end to the on-going Israeli Occupation.

War on Want statement on Lee Scott's appointment to Gordon Brown's International Business Advisory Council.

21 March 2006 - 4:02pm

Commenting on the appointment of Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott to Gordon Brown's International Business Advisory Council, Matthew McGregor, Senior Campaigns Officer at War on Want, said,

Coca-Cola under fire as World Cup comes to London

20 March 2006 - 7:22am

Coca-Cola's dominance of the global soft drinks market has come at huge cost to local communities, the environment and its own workforce, according to a new report to be published on Monday (20 March 2006) by campaigns group War on Want. The new evidence appears in the week that the Coca-Cola sponsored international World Cup tour comes to London (details below).

Coca-Cola: The Alternative Report is the first full exposé of the company's activities worldwide, and forms part of War on Want's ongoing campaign for directors to be made liable for corporate wrongdoing. The report brings together new research and testimony to show how Coca-Cola has:

 

     

     

  • exhausted community water reserves in India by drilling deep into underground reservoirs, drying up local wells and leaving farmers unable to irrigate their crops;
  • contaminated local ecosystems in El Salvador and India through waste effluents discharged from its plants;
  • been implicated in human rights abuses in Colombia, including the death and disappearances of trade union activists at Coca-Cola bottling plants;
  • adopted union-busting tactics in a wide range of other countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Russia, Peru, Chile, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
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Louise Richards, Chief Executive of War on Want, said: "Coca-Cola promotes a sporty image of itself through sponsorship of events such as the World Cup, but the company is not playing fair with its workers and with local communities around the world. Coca-Cola?s exploitation of community water resources and its abuse of workers' rights have marked it out as an irresponsible corporation. It's time the directors of such companies were held to account for their actions."

The sheen was taken off Coca-Cola's image when demonstrators obstructed the torch relay to the winter Olympics in February in protest at Coca-Cola sponsorship. In the UK, the National Union of Students will vote on 28-30 March on ending Coca-Cola's £15 million contract with NUS Services Limited because of concerns about the company's human rights and environmental record overseas.

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