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


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."


  • 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.

£2 Valentine flowers poverty alert

13 February 2009 - 4:11pm

Warning over Asda ‘ethical' bouquets

Valentine's wine whine

13 February 2009 - 12:00am


Cape wine workers paid less than R60 a day

13 February 2009 - 12:00am

Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa)

Valentine's Day wine ‘shame'

12 February 2009 - 3:07pm

NEWS HOOK Saturday, 14 February 2009 St Valentine's Day

EMBARGO: 00.01 hrs GMT, Friday 13 February 2009

African workers pay the price for supermarket greed - report

Lovers buying wine for Valentine's Day tomorrow are today warned that South African workers face poverty wages supplying British supermarkets.

In a new report the anti-poverty charity War on Want cites worsening conditions for employees as UK retailers and wine brokers drive down suppliers' prices to boost their profits.

Amid rising food and fuel costs, large numbers of workers in the Western Cape region are struggling to feed and clothe their families and pay for healthcare and their children's school fees.

Supermarkets control the biggest share of the UK wine market, selling over 80 per cent of all imports. Britain is the world's largest importer of South African wine, buying almost a third by volume. Tesco sells most South African wine (20 per cent), the Co-op 14 per cent, Sainsbury's 12 per cent and Asda and Morrisons 9 per cent each.

The report, Sour Grapes, says that supermarkets and wine agents force suppliers to cut production costs by dominating markets and abusing their buyer power. This traps vineyard and fruit employees in low pay and insecure jobs, with farmers increasingly hiring seasonal employees who earn less and lack entitlements received by permanent workers, such as housing and sick pay.

Though many farms are in remote places, workers must walk there, unable to afford transport. Most seasonal employees are women, earning less than men on permanent contracts and often suffering from sexual harassment at work.

Growing numbers of workers are migrants, who travel long distances in a desperate hunt for even temporary jobs. Migrants experience problems defending their rights as they do not speak Afrikaans, the main Cape language.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Many of us will buy South African wine in supermarkets to share with loved ones on St Valentine's Day. But, for workers producing the wine, these supermarkets and wine agents are more sinners than saints. It is time the UK government introduced regulation to stop this shameful abuse."

War on Want is urging shoppers to write to business secretary Lord Mandelson, urging him to enable overseas workers to seek redress if UK companies or their suppliers exploit them.


  • Sour Grapes: South African wine workers and British supermarket power is based on  research conducted by the International Institute for Environment and Development for War on Want and its South African partner, the trade union Sikhula Sonke.
  • More information on Sikhula Sonke can be found here

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

Jack Whitehall added to comedy bill

12 February 2009 - 2:44pm

Rising star Jack Whitehall has been added to the bill at Comedy Gig 2009, an exciting evening of standup and skits in support of War on Want's work fighting global poverty.


Jack joins an already stellar lineup which features Mark Thomas, Mark Thomas, Daniel Kitson, Adam Bloom, Andi Osho, Paul Sinha, Shappi Khorsandi and Tim Vine.

At only twenty years old, Jack Whitehall has made a remarkable impact on the comedy world. One of the highlights of War on Want's Comedy Gig 2008, he is fresh from a presenting stint on Channel 4 after an impressive debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Purchase tickets now for Comedy 2009 before it's fully booked!


Caterpillar disinvestment move hailed

11 February 2009 - 11:53am

Investors urged to follow Church lead

War on Want welcomes the decision by the Church of England to disinvest from Caterpillar. Institutional investors are today urged to follow the Church by disinvesting from a company whose bulldozers have been used to build the Separation Wall and destroy Palestinians' homes.

The call, from the anti-poverty charity War on Want, comes after the Church of England decision to divest £2.2 million from Caterpillar on financial grounds.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "The Church of England's decision to disinvest from Caterpillar is welcome. It also brings the Church in line with its own ethical investment policy and the decision of the General Synod. Now other institutional investors should take similar action."

War on Want has long called for the Church of England to disinvest from Caterpillar on the grounds of the company's complicity in the violation of Palestinian human rights.

In the report Profiting From the Occupation, the charity attacked Caterpillar over selling bulldozers for the Israeli army to destroy Palestinian homes, schools, orchards and olive groves.

It said that equipment from Caterpillar was also used to construct the Separation Wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice.

And the UN has singled out Caterpillar in particular for its collusion with Israel's human rights abuse.

In 2006 the Church of England General Synod voted to withdraw its investment from Caterpillar. But the Church Commissioners failed to follow the Synod's decision.

After the Israeli onslaught against Gaza in recent weeks, Palestinian civil society groups, including the charity's partner Stop the Wall, have called for an escalation of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

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



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