News

Jersey tax protest targets banks

13 March 2009 - 2:41pm

War on Want protested today (13 March) outside RBS in Jersey over the bank, bailed out with billions of pounds of British taxpayers' money, using tax havens to dodge revenue dues.

jersey_tax

Campaigners demonstrated outside RBS in Jersey's capital St Helier as the charity warned that corporate tax dodging is costing developing countries £250 billion a year.

The protest came on the eve of talks by finance ministers from the G20 group of leading economies at Lower Beeding, near Horsham, West Sussex.

The charity warns that the tax information sharing agreement with Britain signed this week by Jersey is not enough.

It says Jersey has rushed to sign the deal in a bid to escape being put on a blacklist of tax havens being drawn up in advance of next month's G20 summit.

The big four banks - RBS, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC - have over 1200 subsidiaries in tax havens, with the Cayman Islands (262) and Jersey (170) the most popular.

Comment is free: The tax haven scandal must end

13 March 2009 - 12:00am

Britain's offshore tax havens are central to worldwide tax dodging. We must clean up our financial act.

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Tax haven campaign targets banks

12 March 2009 - 10:33am

NEWS HOOKS

Thursday, 12 March 2009
Campaigners from countries losing billions of pounds through banks using tax havens hold a public meeting with residents on the UK crown dependency Jersey who are hit by the island's tax dodgers forcing up living costs

Friday, 13 March 2009
Jersey news briefing, picture opportunity and campaigners' protests outside banks

Saturday, 14 March 2009
Tax haven talks in London among finance ministers from the G20 group of the world's biggest economies before UK premier Gordon Brown hosts the G20 summit involving US president Barack Obama and other leaders on 2 April


Offshore ‘dodges' face Jersey protest

British banks bailed out from collapse with £500 billion of taxpayers' money will today be targeted when UK and mainland European campaigners join forces with Jersey islanders to attack tax havens.

The British charity War on Want will step up its campaign to end tax havens. The charity warns that the tax information sharing agreement with Britain signed this week by Jersey is not enough. It says Jersey has rushed to sign the deal in a bid to escape being put on a blacklist of tax havens being drawn up in advance of next month's G20summit.

The big four banks - RBS, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC - have over 1200 subsidiaries in tax havens, with the Cayman Islands (262) and Jersey (170) the most popular. And Northern Rock has a trust in Jersey called Granite suspected of holding £40 billion.

Tonight the charity - together with Italian, French and Irish groups - will hold a public meeting in Jersey alongside low-income residents as pressure mounts on the UK government to scrap tax havens.

Tomorrow, the eve of talks by finance ministers from the G20 group of leading economies, War on Want and other groups will protest outside 10 major UK and European banks in the island's capital St Helier.

War on Want says corporate tax dodging is costing developing countries £250 billion a year - money which could be used to reach the UN's anti-poverty goals five times over. It also points to Barclays' involvement in the launch of a new tax haven in Ghana, where almost 80 per cent of the population struggle to make ends meet on less than $2 a day.

It warns that any crackdown on tax havens must take account of the impact on those less well off living in havens such as Jersey. War on Want contrasts the £700,000-a-year pension for the disgraced chief of RBS - which has 30 offshore companies in Jersey - with the one in four of the islanders who depend on state help to survive amid one of the world's highest living costs. Despite Jersey boasting its people enjoy one of the world's highest average incomes, through hundreds of billions in bank deposits, 45 per cent of Jersey single pensioners and 64 per cent of single mothers and their children live in relative poverty.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "The British government claims to care about global poverty. Yet the UK plays a major role in helping companies dodge the tax they owe which could help the poor. If Brown is to put people's needs before global greed, he must shut down fat cats' tax havens."


NOTES TO EDITORS

  • The public meeting will take place at 6.45 pm today (Thursday, 12 March) at St Paul's Centre in Dumaresq Street, St Helier. It has been organised by War on Want, Tax Justice Network and The Corner House, Debt and Development (Ireland), Attac (France and Jersey), Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (Italy), and CIDSE and Eurodad (Brussels). The speakers will include economist Alex Cobham, from Oxford University in Britain, Attac representative Jacques Herel and Jersey resident Rose Pestana.
  • War on Want and other groups will brief media at 9.30 am tomorrow (Friday, 13 March) at La Fregate Café, near the Waterfront in St Helier. The charity and the groups will then demonstrate at 10.00 am outside the States of Jersey parliament building in Royal Square, before protesting outside banks with offshore companies. To attend the briefing or take pictures of the protests, call Simon McRae on (+44) (0)7779 146043.
  • Tax haven figures on the big four banks: http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-15906-f0.cfm
  • Ghana tax haven: http://www.ghana.gov.gh/ghana/economy_sound_offshore_banking_governor.jsp
  • Jersey poverty: www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/mar/21/tax

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

 

Enter our joke cartoon contest to win a pair of tickets to Comedy Gig 2009!

26 February 2009 - 5:02pm

Can you think of funny, irreverent lines that might have been shared between PM Gordon Brown and his fat cat friend? Fill in the blank speech bubbles from the cartoon below to earn a chance to win two free tickets to Comedy Gig 2009.

The deadline for all submissions is 11am 2 March. The writer of the most humorous dialogue will be contacted that same day and delivered two tickets to our knock-out comedy event, which will take place on the evening of 5 March.

Please send your submission to mailroom@waronwant.org

» Find out more about the Comedy Gig and book tickets

cartoon

Francesca Martinez joins Comedy Gig 2009 line-up

25 February 2009 - 5:58pm

War on Want's Comedy Gig 2009 just got better.

Top comedian Francesca Martinez has joined the bill for War on Want's Comedy Gig 2009. Voted by The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy, Francesca Martinez is known for her electrifying performances and sharp political observations. In 2006 Martinez drew rave reviews for her appearance in Extras, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's BAFTA-winning comedy series.

The news of Martinez's addition to the bill comes only two weeks after it was announced that Jack Whitehall will be performing at Comedy Gig 2009. The two comedians will be part of a packed line-up which already includes Mark Thomas, Daniel Kitson, Adam Bloom, Andi Osho, Paul Sinha, Shappi Khorsandi and Tim Vine.

There aren't many tickets remaining, so please be sure to book now!

Cash crisis rally draws crowds

25 February 2009 - 3:04pm

Big support for G20 summit protest

Hordes of poverty and green campaigners from groups representing hundreds of thousands of people will join the largest British event to confront the global economic crisis this weekend.

The free, all-day event will take place exactly a month before many thousands of demonstrators march for jobs, justice and the planet in the run-up to the UK hosting a crunch summit of the G20 group of leading economies in London.

More than 1200 people have already booked places at 6 Billion Ways, named after the world's population.

The event comes as the crisis increases unemployment and poverty while threatening the lives of millions of people through rich nations' failure to tackle climate change.

It will take place on Saturday (28 February) with 20 debates on topics including activism, multinationals' abuse and Palestine, films on themes such as democracy and free speech, theatre, information stalls, fair trade goods and books.

Seb Klier, a 6 Billion Ways organiser, said: "Many people angered over a crisis sparked by politicians' free-market policies and bankers' self-interest are determined to press for positive change. This special day will enable them to exchange ideas on how we can build a better world based on need, not greed."

The International Labour Organisation predicts that the number of jobless could rise this year by up to 30 million, compared to 2007, and 50 million if the crisis deepens, with the figure for the working poor soaring to 1.4 billion.

And the World Bank says the slump could throw 53 million more people into poverty.

The day has been arranged by anti-poverty trio War on Want, the Jubilee Debt Campaign and the World Development Movement, as well as Friends of the Earth, the students' network People & Planet, the Muslim charity City Circle and the cultural organisation Rich Mix.

They warn of worse economic troubles unless British prime minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders ditch the free market system that caused the crisis in favour of policies which benefit poor people and the environment.

Among the 6 Billion Ways speakers will be actor Colin Firth, human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzem Begg, activist comedian Mark Thomas, ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone, political scientist Susan George, Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan, South African campaigner Trevor Ngwane and Meena Rahman, general Secretary of Sahabat Alam Malaysia/Friends of the Earth Malaysia.

The event will use three east London venues - Rich Mix, Amnesty International and Shoreditch town hall. Anyone can register for a place on the event website www.6billionways.org.uk or turn up on the day at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA.


CONTACTS

Paul Collins, War on Want media office

(+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

Kate Blagojevic, World Development Movement media office

(+44) (0)207 820 4900/4913 or (+44) (0)7711 875 345.

 

War on Want boosts poverty fight

24 February 2009 - 11:59am

Website facelift woos increased backing

War on Want has launched a new website in a bid to grow support for its battles against global poverty.

The charity plans a major event for activists on the global economic crisis, increased awareness on its overseas work and a leading role in a big demonstration before the G20 summit of the biggest economies in London.

The site's innovative features include:

  • a special feed to tell supporters about breaking news.
  • a striking home page with large rotating images.
  • higher quality photographs and graphics.
  • better integrated films and picture galleries.
  • enhanced search engine.
  • interactive map to show where and how the charity works.
  • a section on how activists can support War on Want campaigns.
  • software which enables all staff to update material.

The popular former website played a key part in voluntary organisations' chief executives placing War on Want among Britain's five most admired charities in a poll conducted by the magazine Third Sector.

War on Want aims to extend the current many thousands of visits to its website from more than 140 countries.

Corin Pearce, who manages the charity's information technology, said: "The new year has seen us gather momentum through initiatives such as a report on exploited wine workers and planned campaign events. With a rising profile as the UK's foremost charity tackling the causes of world poverty, the new website can win even more public backing for our work."

The site was designed with Joomla, a prize-winning content management system.

Joomkit director Alan Sparkes said: "It has been a pleasure and privilege to help War on Want. Its grassroots partnerships represent the most powerful way to fight global poverty."


NOTES TO EDITORS

• The War on Want site is at www.waronwant.org

• Hordes of poverty and green campaigners from groups representing hundreds of thousands of people will join the largest British event to confront the global economic crisis, 6 Billion Ways, on Saturday, 28 February. Anyone can register for the free all-day event at www.6billionways.org.uk

• Put People First!, a coalition of trade unions and anti-poverty, environmental and faith groups representing millions of people, will stage a march for jobs, justice and the climate on Saturday, 28 March. www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk The demonstration will take place five days before the G20 summit of leading economies on Thursday, 2 April in London.

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

Important appeal hearing set in South African case

23 February 2009 - 2:26pm

In a groundbreaking judgment on 30 April 2008, the Johannesburg High Court declared prepaid water meters unconstitutional and ordered the City of Johannesburg to provide an increase in free basic water allocation. Next week an appeal will be heard to determine if this crucial decision will be protected.

The Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF), a War on Want partner organisation, has been campaigning since 2001 for adequate access to basic services for South Africans. Working as part of the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP), the APF has been instrumental in supporting a group of residents from Phiri, Soweto, an area of Johannesburg, who challenged the constitutionality of the installation of pre-paid water meters by the city.

As part of the decision the limitation of free basic water allocation of 6 kilolitres per household per month was set aside and the city was ordered to provide 50 litres per person, per day.

Amos Masondo, the mayor or Johannesburg, and the Johannesburg Water and the Department of Water Affairs & Forestry (DWAF) have appealed the judgement. The appeal hearing will take place in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, South Africa from 23-25 February 2009.

Fifteen years after the end of Apartheid millions of South Africans continue to face problems in accessing adequate and affordable basic public services. Today over 20% of South Africans, more than 9.5 million people, do not have access to basic public services such as water.

Having working with the APF since 2001, War on Want fully supports the APF's campaign for access to water and welcomes the April 2008 High Court decision. While we hope that the Supreme Court of Appeal will uphold the Johannesburg High Court ruling of April 2008, War on Want supports CAWP's plans to pursue the legal case to the Constitutional Court if necessary.

London Fashion Week clothes fury

19 February 2009 - 3:33pm

NEWS HOOK

Friday, 20 February 2009 London Fashion Week starts

Friday, 20 February 2009 The first UN World Day of Social Justice

EMBARGO: 00.01 hrs GMT, Friday 20 February 2009


‘Poverty pay spectre haunts industry'

London Fashion Week opens today facing accusations by the charity War on Want that garment workers are paid poverty wages producing clothing for some of Britain's largest retailers.

With the week starting on the first UN Day of Social Justice, the charity warned that exploitation haunts the event.

War on Want has led the way in campaigning against systemic abuse of overseas garment workers, toiling marathon hours, turning out fashion for British stores for less than a living wage - enough for food, housing and healthcare.

In December its research showed that amid rising food and fuel prices Bangladeshi employees, making fashion for Primark, Tesco and Asda for as little as seven pence an hour, are in deeper poverty than two years earlier.

In March this year a BBC investigation found migrant workers in the English northern city of Manchester toiling 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for £3 an hour, well below the adult minimum wage of £5.73.

And in March last year War on Want collaborated with the UK newspaper the Guardian to reveal Indian workers producing clothing for Gap's upmarket chain Banana Republic received well under a living wage for 70 hours a week.

Simon McRae, the charity's senior campaigns officer, said: "London Fashion Week promotes itself as a great ambassador for British industry. But the trend which is always in vogue is the exploitation of workers. If ministers want the industry to be a positive advertisement for the UK, they must introduce regulation to halt this abuse."


NOTES TO EDITORS

  • The War on Want report Fashion Victims II can be downloaded here
  • The Guardian story on Banana Republic can be found here

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

 

Defending the rights of flower workers in Kenya

13 February 2009 - 6:22pm

Thousands of flower bouquets will be purchased in Britain this Valentine's Day. Yet few of us consider the conditions faced by the workers producing flowers for export, the vast majority of whom are women. The Kenya Women Workers' Organisation (KEWWO), a War on Want partner organisation which promotes the rights of flower workers, recently told us about one case where it intervened to help a woman whose health had suffered from exposure to dangerous chemicals on a flower farm:

Jessica is 35 years of age and a female worker on one of the flower farms in Nakuru. She has worked on several flower farms in Nakuru, but while working on this particular farm she began experiencing health problems, most notably very severe pain in her abdomen. She decided to report her case to the supervisor, but he never took it seriously. She decided to consult a doctor who attributed the pain to her exposure to pesticides used to spray flowers. She reported this matter to the labour office, but the labour officials also ignored her. Without any money to consult a lawyer, she gave up on the matter. As she explained it, "in this country if you don't have money you become helpless. Maybe you people will be able to help, otherwise I have left it to God." When Jessica told us the story, KEWWO presented this matter to the office of labour and is now pursuing the matter on her behalf.

KEWWO has long been championing the rights of Kenyan flower workers. With the support of War on Want, KEWWO has had a tangible impact on the lives of workers like Jessica who have been exploited on the flower farms and plantations across Kenya.

Read more about KEWWO and their work promoting the rights of flower workers.

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