Archive for the ‘featured’ Category

The headline in the Guardian yesterday:

Jobcentre was set targets for benefit sanctions

• Inquiry launched after league tables revealed
• Leak shows pressure on staff to refer claimants

And, today, it seems that charities are playing right into that.  Charities, which exist to help the worst off have a better life.  Charities, where many of us shop and turn to for help, are the same ones that are now profiting – hugely – from the misfortune of the very people they are supposed to help.  Time to get something done.

Let’s start with the good news – the action people like yourself have taken in the last month has brought about positive change.  We mentioned Superdrug yesterday, but there are also six charities that have pulled out.  These are:

  • Sense
  • PDSA
  • Capability Scotland
  • Sue Ryder
  • The Red Cross
  • The Children’s Society

Don’t forget to tell them you appreciate the wonderful example they are setting.  According to Boycott Workfare:

This means the workfare schemes which rely on charity placements are on the rocks! Already before the latest withdrawals, the government complained: “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements.”

Today, we are targeting the charities that are still putting profit before people.  They are:

Lastly, there is Salvation Army.  They are doing all they can to keep this quiet.  I contacted them via Facebook ages ago, and it took them all of 2 minutes to remove my comment and block me from their page.  They have done this to numerous people now and have also started to flood their page with images, so that the comments of other people quickly disappear down the list.  Keep it up though!

Once again, here is a template you can use, although you’re welcome to come up with something yourself.

I object to your involvement in mandatory unpaid labour (Workfare) schemes. I believe that the exploitation of unpaid labour is morally wrong and urge you to reconsider your involvement with these DWP Workfare placements.

I would like to follow suit with other charities and make a public statement (press release) explicitly stating that you are no longer involved in any of the various unpaid labour or “work-for-your-benefits” schemes administered by the DWP or by private sector interests working on their behalf.

I would appreciate it if the issues I have raised were dealt with by someone in authority. I shall look forward to hearing your response to these concerns.

Yours
Jolande
[Your Name]

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Success people! Superdrug have pulled out of the Workfare scheme.  Take the time to thank them for this, positive reinforcement is as important as protest actions.  This way, they stay on the side of the regular people, who need all the help they can get.

However, Superdrug may have set a fantastic example, there are still plenty who have not done the same.  There are still quite a lot of companies who do want to use the scheme and today, we are focusing on the following:

  • Debenhams
  • Poundland
  • Asda
  • Argos
  • Tesco

Click on the links below to take you straight to their Facebook page, where you can copy and paste the following letter, or write your own.  Try as much as you can not to use swearwords or get angry.  This is about making a stand, not raising hell.  By the way, there are a number of organisations, including the Salvation Army, who are purposely removing any Facebook mention of the Workfare Scheme.  So much so, in fact, that if you do complain through those means, they will block you from commenting on their page.  Censorship is rife people!  Let me know if you find yourself blocked from any of the pages, more ammunition to go against these companies.

Here’s the letter:

Dear [Use full name if apparent]

I am a longstanding customer of [Name of retail outlet] but I have decided to boycott your company because I object to your involvement in mandatory unpaid labour (Workfare) schemes. I believe that the exploitation of unpaid labour is morally wrong and urge you to reconsider your involvement with these DWP Workfare placements.

I believe that as a responsible employer, your company has an obligation to meet the statutory Minimum Wage for all of your employees. I shall continue my boycott until I am provided with satisfactory evidence that your company is no longer involved in these mandatory work schemes and agrees to the principle that all employees deserve to earn at least the UK National Minimum Wage. I also believe that it is actually in your own interests that these unpaid labour schemes are abandoned, since workers with wages in their pockets are consumers and consumer spending is the principal driver of demand in the retail sector. It may seem counter intuitive that paying your staff better wages would increase your profitability, however Henry Ford demonstrated that he understand this economic principle almost 100 years ago when he made the decision to price his cars low and to pay his workers reasonably well.

I would like your company to make a public statement (press release) explicitly stating these two things:

1 That your company is no longer involved in any of the various unpaid labour or “work-for-your-benefits” schemes administered by the DWP or by private sector interests working on their behalf.

2. That it is company policy that all workers (including trainees) are paid in accordance with the National Minimum Wage.

I would appreciate it if the issues I have raised were dealt with by someone in authority. I shall look forward to hearing your response to these concerns.

Yours

[Your Name]

The following is taken directly from the Boycott Workfare website, where you can find further contact details of the various companies.

Debenhams

Debenhams has 165 stores across the UK and Ireland and has a turnover of £2.2 billion. They too have been taking advantage of wageless, rightless workers supplied by the DWP at the taxpayers’ expense. They’re very keen to insist that the scheme they’re involved in is voluntary, but DWP rules say if you don’t get take part you’re referred to a scheme which carries 3 year sanctions. So it’s only voluntary if you say yes.

Press Office: press.office@debenhams.com 
Customer services: customerrelations@debenhams.com 
Company secretary: company.secretariat@debenhams.com (Paul Eardley)
Facebook: Debenhams – the official page 
Twitter:

Poundland

Countless reports of workfare in Poundland’s stores have emerged, and the retailer has come under particular pressure since Cait Reilly successfully challenged her Poundland placement in the courts. So much so that instead of staying involved in the existing workfare schemes, they have set up their own. They tell us: “We currently have people taking part in work experience placements across 71 of our stores, and since launching the scheme, 20% have been offered a job with us”. That’s 80% who have worked for free for nothing. Poundland profits soared to £40 million last year. If Poundland needs people to work in its stores, it can pay them.

Feedback form: click here
Press centre: poundland@bottlepr.co.uk
Chief Executive (Warburg Pincus – their US based private equity fund owners): egustafson@warburgpincus.com 
Facebook: Poundland 
Twitter:

Asda

Asda has been at the heart of workfare in the UK, helping the government relaunch its “Work Experience” scheme last year. We have had reports that one of their stores in Manchester uses disabled people on workfare on the night shift. They are frank about their involvement here.

Asda contact form: Click here
Facebook: Asda

Argos

Argos appears to be using six week placements from the Job Centre on a massive scale. Multiple reports of Argos using workfare placements so that paid staff hours are being reduced and fewer Christmas temps employed have emerged.

Business email: info@argos.co.uk
Corporate responsibility (HRG): gordon.bentley@homeretailgroup.comcorporate.responsibility@homeretailgroup.com 
Media relations (HRG): media.relations@homeretailgroup.com 
Managing director: john.walden@argos.co.uk
Head Office (01908 690333)
Customer Services (01785 710253)
Facebook: Argos

Tesco

Tesco has committed to 3000 workfare placements, and so far 80% of the 1500 people who have gone through their stores have not been given a job. In response to public pressure, they have introduced a fudge which offers people a place on their own scheme instead but this misses the point.

Tesco’s profits last year were £1.7 billion. 1500 eight week, thirty hour placements would mean the company has so far profited from 360,000 hours of free labour on the schemes. Tesco need to stop fudging the issue, pull out of workfare and start paying every single person who works in their stores a living wage.

Head office email address: online@tesco.co.uk
Customer service email address: customer.service@tesco.co.uk
Phil Clarke, Current CEO of Tesco’s: philip.clarke@uk.tesco.com

Telephone: 0845 7225533 (Head office number) or 0845 600 4411 (This is the number for Tesco direct)
Facebook: Tesco

This week is national boycott workfare week.  Make sure you check out the Boycott Workfare website.  Each day, you can take part in a different  protest to bring down those companies that have agreed to join in the workfare scheme.  Today’s turn is A4E.  Why not copy and paste the following email and send it to all known A4E email addresses (included below the email)?  Hopefully, if enough of us do it, we will bring down their system.

workfareI believe all companies in the UK should pull together to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage.

Yesterday, aside from a few votes against, Labour lined up with Conservative and Lib Dems to enable the workfare bill to go through by abstaining. Not only did politicians enable a retroactive law be enacted, they also deprived 225,000 people of justice, effectively robbing £130 million in welfare payments people were lawfully due.

You are one of the biggest beneficiaries of Government welfare policy. In 2011 your company’s turnover was £180 million, 100% of which came from the public coffers. Out of this your bosses shared out £11 million between them.

You have a catastrophic record of failing to meet even the paltry minimum targets set by the Department for Work and Pensions for finding people jobs on the workfare scheme, the Work Programme. You have more chance of finding a job without your bullying ‘back to work’ tactics.

Not content with what amounts to the officially sanctioned scam of lucrative welfare to work contracts from your  friends in Government there are numerous accusations of fraud against you, where records are apparently falsified, so that you can claim even more public money for not doing your job. You are further subsidised by the public by your use of mandatory unpaid labour within your company as well. The costs of Workfare are socialised while the profits are privatised.

I have worked with A4E myself regularly in my capacity as a council worker for children and young people’s services.  I am horrified by the fact that you have agreed to sign up to this scheme.  It proves that you have no clue about what is happening at grass root level, where your own employees are truly committed to helping people make the most out of their lives.  It is these same employees that will now be left with doing your dirty work, effectively telling their service users they will be expected to perform slave labour.

Pull out, while you still can.

The email addresses I have sent this to are:

Email A4e: customerservices@a4e.co.uk
Head of Communications: kmccrory@a4e.co.uk
Media Relations Manager: jkerr@a4e.co.uk

adutton@a4e.co.uk

If you know more email addresses, please add them here.

Yesterday, protest was directed at the Salvation Army.  You can still jump on that bandwagon by going to the Boycott Workfare website as well.  Also, make sure you join  the Boycott Welfare Facebook event.

Together, we CAN make a difference!

If you are not in the United Kingdom, you may not have heard about this, but one week ago, a five year old girl, April Jones, disappeared from her village in Wales.  A man, Mark Bridger, has been arrested and charged with her abduction and murder.  No body has yet been found, and people remain hopeful that April will be found alive and well.  A message was placed on the 10 Downing Street Facebook page asking that the death penalty would be reinstated for Mark Bridger.  I am personally against the death penalty (unless it is in relation to beheading royals, obviously), but I understand this is an on-going debate that people will probably never agree on.  I will lay out why I am against the death penalty, just to start a debate.  But what I really want to talk about is how horrified I am by the barbaric nature of many people, who have commented on the post on 10 Downing Street.  I am, personally, shocked.

Why I Am Against the Death Penalty

First of all, I strongly believe in human rights.  And I think the most basic of all human rights is the right to live.  Taking someone’s life is hideous and horrible, but that does not mean you have lost your own human rights.  Bear in mind, as well, that Mark Bridger is innocent until proven guilty.  Personally, I think it’s a shocking state of affairs that this man has been named and shamed publicly.  What if he didn’t do it?  And it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened in the UK.  A few years back, a man was wrongly accused of murdering a number of prostitutes.  He didn’t do it, but he was named and shamed in the media and will never live this down.

But here are some statistics on the death penalty, which make it even more important for me that this horrific type of punishment is never brought back to this country, and why I think it should be removed from any other country:

  • Since 1992, 15 death row inmates have been fully exonerated in the United States.  This means they were waiting to die for a crime they didn’t commit but had a very lucky escape.
  • In the United Kingdom, three exonerations and one pardon have been granted to people who were executed between 1950 and 1953.  Posthumously, obviously.
  • Some specific examples of people wrongfully executed in the United States include Johnny Frank Garrett, Wayne Felker, Thomas and Meeks Griffin, Chipita Rodriguez and Carlos DeLuna.
  • Statistics show that 3% of executions in the United States are botched, meaning that three out of every 100 people executed should not have been.
  • In the United Kingdom, specific examples of people wrongfully executed include Timothy Evans and Derek Bentley.

There are many more examples from cases around the world and these are just examples of cases that were reinvestigated.  What does that tell you?  The chances of killing an innocent man or woman are just too big, in my eyes.

Not just that, every person sentenced to death is still someone’s relative, someone’s child, perhaps husband or wife, someone’s father or mother, someone’s friend.  Why destroy their lives even more in the process?  What do you gain by executing somebody?  After all, the perpetrator will simply be dead, nothing else.  Remember my favourite saying: an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Despicable Words from the British Public

It seems that in the UK at least, there are plenty of people that don’t agree with me.  They are aggressive and violent and some of the things they say are completely inhumane.  In my eyes, that makes them no better than Mark Bridger, and I must reiterate once again that the man has not been convicted of anything yet.  Here are a few quotes from people that have commented on the letter to David Cameron, requesting a reinstatement of the death penalty:

Death would be to easy for cunts lyk this torture the fucker – three “likes”

This man needs more than hung or tied in a chair!! He need’s tying to a bed, tortured for days on end, when his body packs in and he is close to his end he then needs skinning and fed to aload of pigs! Evil, discusting, filthy worthless piece of shit!! I’d spit on his grave!! – two “likes”

Put an old tyre around his neck, fill it with petrol, light. Job done. – two “likes”

A bullet costs 30p. – six “likes”

jus put him or anyother inbreeded freak of nature in a hole jus leavin his ed above ground and cut his eye lids off n leave him, naa throw a rock a day till its stop breathin slowly but surly kil the cunt… – three “likes”

May he die a slow painful death u evil bastard if u molested her may ur penis be cut off in to tiny pieces n u be fed them u p***k – two “likes”

My Response

One thing I noticed is the incredibly high standard of literacy in these comments…  Anyway, here’s what I wrote and the conversation that followed.

I’m really saddened by some of the things that have been written on here. Read back and look at what some of you guys have said. It is barbaric and despicable. You are talking about gruesomly murdering another human being, someone who hasn’t been convicted of any crime yet. He is someone’s son, someone’s father and someone’s friend. And not just that, how are your opinions making anything better? Do you really think April’s parents are reading this and thinking their daughter will probably never come home but that’s ok because a bunch of random people want to have him hung drawn and quartered? I am honestly shocked at the brutality and evilness that is so clearly within some of you. Shame on you.

Response:

Jolande Mace… April was somone’s daughter, friend & loved 1… That arsehole took her from them.. He deserves all he gets you fucking muppet!!

Jolsnde mace fuck off its evil what he’s done

To which I said:

I never said April’s life isn’t valued. She is just as much someone’s daughter and friend. What I am saying is that even her killer – whoever it may be and if she is dead – is a human being too. The acts described in here as punishment for him are inhumane. No matter what someone has done, they are still human. Imagine for a minute that the bloke is your son or father, maybe then you’ll understand what I’m saying. His behavior, if he did it, is inexcusable. That means there is never any excuse for that kind of behavior. Ergo, doing it back to him is still inexcusable.

“fuck off” really? Is that how you always conduct yourself in a debate? Perhaps expanding your vocabulary slightly will give you a bit more credibility. The guy is innocent until proven guilty. Even if he is guilty, murdering him will not change anything. You will only destroy more families.

I’m very happy to say that my comment got 19 “likes”.  Hopefully this does say something about the general opinion of the British public.

What are your views?

Jimmy Savile – Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile – was born in 1926 and died in 2011.  He was an English DJ, presented television shows and was basically a huge personality in the media industry.  He presented Jim’ll Fix It as well as Top of the Pops.   He supported a huge range of charities and was known to all as a philanthropist.  He was knighted for these efforts and received an OBE and a KCSG.  He volunteered for his charities at Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Broadmoor Hospital.  Sounds like a nice enough guy right?  That is, until you hear about the allegations of sexual abuse.

Allegations of Sexual Abuse against Jimmy Savile

Scotland Yard has started an investigation into Jimmy Savile amidst allegations that he has sexually abused over 40 victims, including a man.  Dozens of people have contacted police forces across the country to talk about their own experiences.  The male alleges to have been molested by Jimmy Savile when he was just 12 years old.  A nurse has also claimed that she has seen Jimmy Savile abuse a hospital patient who was recovering from brain surgery.  She was in hospital herself, not on duty as a nurse.  Savile was volunteering here.  Another woman claims to have been molested by Savile as she lay on an operating trolley in the same hospital.

It is said that the molestations and abuses were committed between 1950 and 1990.

There are even some audio recordings during which Savile is behaving inappropriately with a young girl.

Pressure on the BBC

There is significant pressure on the BBC amidst claims that they knew Savile was being accused.  In fact, a new Leveson enquiry will hopefully take place into this claim.  The recording mentioned above is being questioned at the minute. Someone made and kept that recording and it isn’t clear whether or not it was ever broadcasted.  The Met Office’s child abuse team will now work with the BBC to find out the truth behind all of this.  Some of the allegations made against Savile come from women who said they happened on the premises of the BBC themselves.

The BBC, naturally, is denying that any of their senior figures were aware of Savile’s activities and would never turn a blind eye to this sort of behaviour.  For many, however, it is incomprehensible that allegations of this nature have only been reviewed internally by the BBC.

It has now been uncovered that allegations against Savile came out in 2007 and he was then investigated by Surrey Police.  This took place in 2007 and the allegations were said to have taken place in the 1970s.  Surely, the BBC knew about that one?  In fact, Savile himself bragged to his friends that he was “untouchable”.   Other broadcasters, including Paul Gambaccini, said he has seen this coming a long time ago and everybody knew that Savile had a penchant for young girls.  A driver who worked for the BBC has stated that people were getting fired from their BBC jobs if they made any statements about Savile.

Why the Powerful Can Get Away with Abuse

So how come none of these victims came forward sooner?  The alleged male victim claimed that he would not be believed and that it could damage his career as a school teacher.  In fact, when he told his family about what had happened, even they did not believe him, trusting instead the good work Savile has done over many years.

Another reason as to why someone as powerful as Jimmy Savile can get away with this is that he hides where you least expect him: in plain sight.  He behaves in such a way that there is no chance anyone would ever believe he was a paedophile, by being a philanthropist.  For many of us, someone who does so much for charity cannot do something as wrong as abuse children.  A certainly not someone who does their charitable work publically.  We are conditioned to think that they wouldn’t dare, that they wouldn’t jeopardise their career like that.  But we are wrong to think that.

Worst of all, it isn’t just the horrific idea that someone who seemed as “nice” as Jimmy Savile could potentially be an absolute monster.  One of the problems is that it is highly conceivable that people in the right places (the BBC) knew about it and let him carry on.  It was more important to keep someone like Savile in the public light than to admit they were shooting a paedophile straight to fame.

How often do we hear this story though?  Whether it is politicians, people within the clergy or any other figure of authority or power, the same thing gets said time and time again by the victims: I didn’t say anything because I thought no one would believe me because of the position the perpetrator was in.  If we are to change anything for the better, shouldn’t we change that mind set at least?

Do you sponsor a child in a subdeveloped country?  Good on you!  Do you donate money to a building schools in Africa project?  Fantastic work!  Please, whatever you do, don’t stop donating to good, honest and noteworthy charities.  That is not the point of this article.  I do have to give you a word of warning.  Make sure you only donate to a charity that can demonstrate every pound or dollar or Euro you give them actually reaches its target.  Secondly, make sure you are working with a charity that does not have a hidden agenda.  There is one charity, for instance, that allows you to sponsor a child.  What they don’t tell you is that the communities they build are only available for those children and families that agree to convert to Christianity.  Just saying, do your research.  And keep giving.  If you have the money, give it away.  Money needs to roll and there are people out there who need it more than you.

Some Things to Think about

If you aren’t donating to charity yet, try to think whether there is any money you could do without.  I know charities will phone you and ask for a certain amount, but good charities are happy with anything, whether it’s 20 pence or 20 pounds.  Look inside yourself and think whether there is anything you can do for the world yourself.  Once you have worked out how much you can give, think about what you can give too.  It is tempting, isn’t it, to give money to a project that provides food to people, or a project that builds schools?  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that, but how about looking into projects that can make an important difference?  Building new schools is great, but how about investing in a project that gets kids to actually go to school?  And the most important thing in the world is water.  Donate to a project that makes water accessible and you really are on a winner.  You know the old saying: give a man a fish and he won’t be hungry for a day, but teach a man to fish and he won’t ever be hungry.  That’s what it’s about.

Water is the building block of life.  Give people water and you give them life.  You give them irrigation.  You give them the opportunity to grow their own food.  Let’s take a look at some facts about water that may help you convince you that this is where your money should go.

Facts about Water

Did you know that worldwide, 1.5 billion people are unable to access safe and clean water?  Globally, 4 million people die each year from diseases that are water related.  Almost half of these are due to diarrhoea.  Almost all of the deaths, however, happen in the developing world.  It is the biggest killer of children under five worldwide.    Also, lack of access to clean water claims more lives than wars or guns do.  Scary, isn’t it?  Of all the people that are sick right now, half of those illnesses are caused due to lack of sanitation and no access to water.

Did you know that a woman in sub Saharan Africa will spend 16 hours each and every week just to collect water, but that a single American uses 500 litres of water every day?  Scarily, it is recommended we each only use 50 litres per day, which is still more than a woman in Africa will be able to carry home for her entire family of course.  In fact, one sixth of the world’s population is only able to use six litres of water per day.  In Gambia, this amount is reduced to just 4.5 litres.  Makes you think when you know flushing the toilet uses eight litres of water, doesn’t it?

Do you know how much water we use for silly things as well?  Making a pound of coffee costs 11,000 litres.  The paper for a single Sunday paper takes 300 litres.  And then you consider that half of the schools across the world don’t have water or sanitation.  Feel guilty yet?

70% of all water is used by agriculture (this is good if it’s in the right place).  22% is used in industry.

These are scary statistics, but they are true.  So give your money if you have it, but please, I beg of you, give it to water projects.

What Is Anarchy?

What exactly is anarchy?  Is it lawlessness, Mad Max, a doomsday scenario and some bloke called Vivian with orange hair that kicks in walls and is just perpetually angry?  Fuck no, that is not what anarchy is about.  Let’s take a look at the definition of anarchy and what true anarchists are trying to achieve in today’s society.  Then maybe next time you hear someone on the news say that “anarchy is ruling” wherever a civil war is about to break out, you will be ready to mail or phone that television statement and tell them to know what the hell they’re talking about first.

ImageDefinition of Anarchism

Anarchy and anarchism is the doctrine or the theory that believes that any government is an oppressive government.  Therefore, any government is undesirable and should be taken down in its entirety.  Anarchists also reject any type of authority or coercive control.  Interestingly, a definition was added in recent year.  This definition says that anarchy or anarchism is terrorism and active resistance against the state.  How disgusting is that?  How dare people tar terrorists and anarchists with the same brush?  Anarchists believe in letting people rule themselves, terrorists believe in killing innocent people.  How is that the same thing?

In Laymen’s Terms

If you’re still not getting it, don’t worry.  Dictionaries have a funny way of throwing terms in our way that don’t really make any sense.  This is deliberate, so that we don’t get any ideas about trying to rule ourselves.  One of the best known anarchy statements is “there’s no government like no government” and that is what anarchy is all about.  Anarchists are peaceful.  They want to be left alone by idiots who think they can rule a country and its people.  They just want to govern themselves.  That doesn’t mean they will riot stores that don’t belong to them.  That doesn’t mean they will go into villages and pillage and rape.  Anarchists, actually, aren’t even violent at all. Image

Does that marry up with the image you had of an anarchist?  Probably not right?  Ask yourself why.  Have you ever seen an anarchist?  If so, have you seen a real one, or have you seen what the media has been feeding you?  Don’t be afraid now, but an anarchist may just be living right next door to you.  They may have a job and they may be raising a family.  What will you be when you find out your neighbour is an anarchist?  Will you be one of those people who talks about them as if they are actually serial killers, along the lines of “gosh, he was always the quiet one” or “he seemed like such a family man, who would have every thought”?  Or will you be more intelligent and capable of thinking for yourself, beyond the media crap that is drip fed into us every day of our lives?  Perhaps you may even turn into an anarchist yourself, it seems it is contagious!