‘Kill off G8 dinosaur'

7 July 2009 - 3:21pm

NEWS HOOK: Wednesday 8 July-Friday 10 July 2009 G8 group of the world's richest nations holds summit

Call to dump free market policies

The G8 group of the world's richest nations is a dinosaur which should be put out of its misery, the British anti-poverty War on Want says today.

It says the group should be scrapped in favour of a democratic alternative based on people's needs, not corporate greed.

The call is signalled as UK prime minister Gordon Brown and the other G8 leaders prepare to start their three-day summit in the Italian earthquake-hit city of L'Aquila tomorrow (Wednesday).

War on Want cites German chancellor Angela Merkel's comment that "the G8 format is no longer adequate".

But the charity says Merkel's proposal to extend the G8 to the G20, including the largest developing countries, ignores the fact that both groups have championed the free market policies which caused the world economic crisis.

John Hilary, executive director at the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: "It is time to put the G8 dinosaur out of its misery and to recognise that even the G20 is already past its sell-by date. Both the G8 and G20 continue to promote the free market policies which are increasing global poverty. We need a new body with a radical new plan for the world's economy, drawn up and backed by the full membership of the United Nations."

War on Want points to wide consensus that the present crisis is the result of structural imbalances caused by three decades of deregulated free-market capitalism. It highlights the need for the world economic system to undergo a major transformation.

But, the charity says, the G20 used the London summit in April to resurrect the failed policies and institutions of the free market era.

The London summit gave even more power to three institutions which, the charity claims, have policed the neoliberal world order - the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.

War on Want cites the findings of an expert commission, chaired by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, which has devised a series of radical recommendations for global economic reform.

Proposals to the UN summit on the financial crisis in June included a global economic coordination council within the UN, which, War on Want claims, would bring a more just and sustainable form of global economic coordination than now practised by the WTO, IMF and World Bank.

According to the charity, the UN process offers a democratic alternative that would enable those least responsible for the crisis to make fair and effective decisions on the future of the world economy.

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


Five years after court ruling, Israel continues to build illegal wall

7 July 2009 - 12:00am

On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the Separation Wall being built by Israel on Palestinian land was illegal. The ICJ ruled that Israel must cease construction of the Wall, dismantle the sections built thus far and make reparations to Palestinians for the damage caused. Yet five years on from the ICJ ruling Israel continues to build the Wall in defiance of international law and global outrage.

Comment is free: End the G8 charade – we need a G192

6 July 2009 - 4:25pm

Institutions such as the G8 and G20 will only ever serve the interests of the few. We need a forum of the many


War on Want partner speaks out against the coup in Honduras

6 July 2009 - 12:42pm

War on Want partner Codemuh - a Honduran women's collective - has condemned the actions of the Honduran army after it forcibly removed the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from power.

Tesco clothes ‘sweatshops' attacked

2 July 2009 - 1:48pm

NEWS HOOK: Britain's largest retailer Tesco holds its annual meeting in Glasgow

Campaign targets £3bn profits retailer's AGM

Britain's largest retailer Tesco today comes under fire over 7p an hour garment workers in Bangladesh as shareholders prepare to hail the company's record £3 billion profits at its annual meeting.

The charity War on Want cited research which reveals employees toiling up to 80 hours a week making Tesco clothes in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka for as little as 1663 taka (£14) a month.

Employees calculate a worker needs £44.82 (5333 taka) a month to give their family nutritious food, clean water, shelter, clothes, education, health care and transport.

In the three Tesco factories researched, average workers' pay, £20 (2280 taka) a month, is less than half a living wage.

Most employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities.

Runa, who produces Tesco clothes, is one of many young women forced by poverty to leave her rural home to earn money to send back to her family.

She said: "My pay is so meagre that I cannot afford to keep my child with me. I have sent my five-month old baby to the village to be cared for by my mother."

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

Though compulsory 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 suffer verbal and physical abuse as they struggle to meet unrealistic targets

War on Want contrasts Tesco's claim to respect the rights of its garment suppliers to join and form trade unions with the charity's study which revealed that none of the Dhaka factories investigated was unionised.

War on Want adds that Tesco has signed up to a code of conduct under the Ethical Trading Initiative which commits the retailer to pay garment workers living wages, support freedom of association and collective bargaining, and to ban harsh treatment and excessive working hours.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "While Tesco has smashed all records with more than £3 billion profits, it is also breaking promises to ensure a living wage and decent conditions for its garment workers. Tesco cannot be trusted to keep its word. The British government must act to stop this abuse."

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

NOTE TO EDITORS: Tesco's annual meeting will take place at 10.30 am on Friday (3 July) in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Exhibition Way, Finnieston, Glasgow G3 8YW.



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