Tesco is a lot more subtle than union busting Wal-Mart. The Usdaw
Trade Union have signed a partnership agreement and
sided with Tesco bosses who recently slashed sick pay for employees.
Udsaw reckons if you worked for any other retailer you would jump
at the chance to have the type of partnership agreement Usdaw has
with Tesco. Andre Van Der Merwe probably disagrees. He got
the boot for skivin off, even though it was his
boss who sent him home because he had a swollen eye. Andre told
an employment tribunal that he was so stressed and exhausted from
his night-shift job in the store that he lost three stone in weight
and had to spend weekends sleeping. The tribunal found against Tesco,
the company that docks workers 15 minutes wages for being three
minutes late for work.
Obviously a shop that sells jeans for less than a fiver uses sweatshop
labour, but workers picking fruit are getting a raw deal too. This
week, a report by ActionAid states that pear picking Tesco workers
in South Africa complained of wages so low that they could not afford
school uniforms for their kids. Researchers discovered that pesticides
were being sprayed whilst women worked in the orchards without protective
clothing and workers picked pears while trees were still wet
from pesticides. Policy researcher Dominic Eagleton commented
that the growth of supermarkets in developing countries is
really undermining the fight against poverty.
In its push to maximise profit, Tesco is busy destroying local
communities here in the UK too. In their Ghost Town Britain
report, the New Economics Foundation revealed that between 1995
and 2000 we lost about a fifth of our local shops and services including
post-offices, banks, butchers and grocers. Between 1997 and 2002,
around 50 specialist stores closed every week. In October 2002,
Tesco bought 870 One Stop, Day & Night or Dillons shops across
the UK, almost 1/2 of which contained a sub post office. Tossco
is now busily converting these shops into Tesco Express, closing
100 post offices, often in the smallest communities, in the process.
The companys environmental policy admits that the store does
not claim to have all the solutions, but some solutions
are pretty obvious. Like not promoting car travel to out of town
superstores and not lobbying Ken Livingstone to reduce the congestion
The food might be cheap, but think twice before tuckin in.
Tesco special offers on food usually apply to processed, over-packaged
fat laden grub, high in all the unhealthy crap. This is where the
most profit is, but the food still costs less if you use raw ingredients.
If the spoonful of organo-phosphates, the glass of GM milk or chicken
thats doubled in fat content in 50 years doesnt put
you off, then what about the food monoculture being encouraged by
the store? Thirty years ago the 75 strong Thames Valley Vegetable
Growers Association supplied every kind of produce. Now only 5 supply
what the supermarkets believe looks good on the shelves. One Covent
Garden trader told Joanna Blythman, author of Shopped: The
Shocking Power of British Supermarkets, that if he tried to
sell supermarket-style produce to chefs he would be laughed out
of their kitchens.
Tesco sell food and electrical goods, rent DVDs, will give you
a credit card, insure your home, provide an internet service and
will even write your will. Tesco is also the worlds largest
online grocer and has 2,350 stores and 100 hypermarkets. Company
bosses are planning to open up to 20 new Tesco Extras a year.
Want to stop the corporate control of our food? Boycotting Tesco
supports local shops and communities. Why not spread the word and
drop a few SchNEWS round to your local branch? You can always call
Tesco on 0845 7225533 if youd like to tell em where
to stick their £2bn mega-profits.
* To find out whats wrong with supermarkets and more dirt on Tesco
*Recommended reading Joanna Blythman Shopped: The Shocking
Power of British Supermarkets (Perennial books)
Crap Arrest of the Week
For being Islamic...
A 16 year old Guinean girl in NYC was plucked from school and is
being held in a detention centre in Pennsylvania, apparently as
a high risk terrorist threat. It seems that no-one who actually
knows her has any idea why. I just cant fathom this,
said her teacher, Kimberly Lane, shes just a regular
teenager. Two weeks ago her biggest worry was whether shed
done her homework or studied for a science test.
This story follows the recent incarceration of another 16 year
old from New York, a Bangladeshi girl now held at the same detention
centre. According to the FBI, the teenagers are an imminent
threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that
they plan to be suicide bombers. No evidence was cited, and
federal officials will not comment on the case. Well let Ms
Lane have the final word: I remember telling her the government
doesnt go after 16-year-old girls. And in the last few days,
Im wrestling with the fact that, yes, it does.
UPTON NO GOOD
As part of the ongoing project to turn the whole country into identikit
retail parks, malls and yuppie apartments, and make sure that never
again is Britain referred to as a nation of shopkeepers,
the latest local area still retaining some character under threat
is the century-old Queens Market, Upton Park - one of the few surviving
East End markets in London. The local mayor in collusion with property
developers St Modwens wishes to see it destroyed and replaced by
an Asda superstore and a block of luxury flats.
Whilst we are sure a few individuals (and shareholders) will do
very nicely out of the deal, as Corporate Watch remind us, When
we look more closely at the hidden costs of supermarkets, the choice,
convenience and value they supposedly offer becomes questionable.
By putting small independent retailers out of business, they are
hardly providing choice. By forcing consumers to use their cars
for their weekly shop, they are hardly convenient, and when we calculate
the cost to the taxpayer, small farmers, our health and the environment
of cheap food, it doesnt seem such good value.
Thats Asda price.
To support the campaign to save the market email firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the last acts of Neo Labour before announcing the General
Election has been to clampdown even more on protests. Hidden in
the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill is clauses relating
to behaviour in the vicinity of Parliament primarily
aimed at removing Brian Haw, the Parliament Square peace protestor,
who has spent nearly 4 years in a continuous anti-war protest vigil
opposite the Houses of Parliament. Other measures have also been
included that will no doubt have wide-ranging implications on protest
Brian won a landmark High Court case to carry on his protest in
October 2002. So Neo Labour decided they needed a new law to deal
with him: placing severe restrictions on protest in a very wide
area around Parliament, which will seriously curtail the rights
of everyone to protest in Central London, whatever the issue.
Demonstrators will now have to give 6 days notice (or 24 hours
if not reasonably practical to give 6 days) to the Metropolitan
Commissioner, who will say whether a protest may go ahead and, if
so, under what restrictions. These restrictions include how many
people may turn up and how many placards they may carry. Restrictions
may be placed if the protest is seen as likely to cause a disruption
to the community. As most protest causes some disruption by
its very nature, this law will have wide-ranging implications. A
single police officer may be able to change any of the restrictions
at the time of the protest. The restrictions will apply to any protest
within 1km of Parliament Square, covering all government buildings
and much else besides. The penalties for breaching the restrictions
are severe - up to a year in prison and substantial fines.
The Human Rights organisation Liberty say that they cannot see
how these measures can be compatible with Article 11 of the
Human Rights Act (the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and
association). As Baroness Shirley Williams said it was bizarre
and ironic that such rights to protest are praised in
the Lebanon, in the Ukraine, in Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere but
we are now beginning to make (them) almost impossible in our
* People are needed to join a rota to defend any threatened eviction
of Brian Haw to volunteer call 07916 151054 or see www.parliament-square.org.uk
A BRIDGE TOO FAR
Plans to build a six lane motorway across the Thames were disrupted
last week as the pre-inquiry meeting ended in uproar when the inspectors
walked out. Objectors had asked for the inquiry into the Thames
Gateway Bridge to be postponed as they had not been given enough
time to make the case against the fume producing, racket making
motorway that will go through residential areas in south east London.
When the inspector, Robert Barker, an (oh-so-impartial) ex-engineer
for one of the engineering firms who are bidding for the road contract,
announced that the public inquiry would not be postponed, there
were cries of protest from angry local residents and pressure groups.
One protestor grabbed the microphone and shouted This whole
thing is a scandal. This bridge is being railroaded through. You
are not listening to people and was then chased around the
table. The inspectors walked out of the meeting, leaving it in chaos.
The Head Inspector has now resigned.
The Thames Gateway bridge is part of New Labours massive
and controversial road building scheme, set rolling by last years
Future of Transport White Paper (the 10 year plan for
transport). It is being sold as a local bridge, but
will in fact be a massive polluting motorway whose tolls will keep
local people, in a mainly deprived area, from crossing whilst pumping
clouds of smog into their environment and blasting the mainly residential
area with noise. Ken Livingstone originally said that you could
bury me in a block of concrete before he let this road
be built, but now his Transport for London supports it. As for the
noise, TfL say people will get used to it - i.e. stop
complaining and shut up. The new road will generate approx 20 million
vehicles a year that could end up rat-running through the local
area, and cause more traffic accidents. The surrounding area of
Bexley already has the highest childhood asthma rates of any London
borough. The Thames Gateway Bridge is the same motorway as
the Oxleas Wood scheme which was famously defeated in 1993 - hot
on the heels of the Twyford Down direct action campaign and the
massive anti roads protest movement of the nineties.
Action Group Against the Bridge www.pvr.co.uk/tgb
Road Block 01803 847649 www.roadblock.org.uk
Two elderly women, killed during a protest against factory pollution,
sparked a riot by thousands of villagers in eastern China at the
weekend. The two were run over by police in Huankantou village,
Zhejiang province who were trying to disperse 200 elderly women
who had kept up a two-week 24 hour vigil and roadblock outside a
chemical factory that is blamed for ruined crops and deformities
in new-born babies.
Angry villagers then smashed their way into a school where police
and officials were holed up. They were attacked with rocks,
cudgels and choppers by thousands of people and more than 30 were
hurt and taken to hospital, five in serious condition, a city
statement said. 3,000 riot police officers then turned up and 50
of their buses were attacked before the police attacked them with
teargas, clubs and shields.
As this is China there was a news blackout and journalists trying
to enter the area were detained by the police but violent
demonstrations are becoming increasingly frequent as economic growth
has caused resentment at corruption, environmental destruction and
the growing gap between rich and poor. China will no doubt soon
be knocking on the door of the G8.
SchNEWS in Brief
- Animal Experiments - Science or Fiction? Is animal
experimentation essential for medical progress or a serious hazard
to human health? Debate next Thursday (21) Oxford Town Hall
- Theres a G8 Climate Counter Summit follow up meeting
on Monday (18) for anyone interested in networking, campaigning
and planning for the action on climate change around the G8. Its
at Rampart Social Centre, 15 Rampart Street, London E1 7pm www.dissent.org.uk/g8climateaction
- The Trapese roadshow will also be at Rampart on the 23rd
chatting about climate change, oil-war, the G8 and civil disobedience
plus interactive workshops, a pub quiz and short films, followed
by a social. 6pm onwards Rampart Centre www.trapese.org
- London Indymedia have organised a five-day film festival
on the Middle East featuring films from Iraq, Palestine/Israel,
Afghanistan, Lebanon and more. 26-30th at Rampart www.indymedia.org.uk/en/static/cinema.html
- Next Thursday (21) Cherrybomb meets Raise the Roof benefit
happening at the Toucan Club, St Marys St, Cardiff. 7pm-3am
- Want to learn some medical skills for protest situations?
Then get along to action medic training taking place across the
country in May and June (and get in touch if you can organise
something in the South West) www.actionmedics.org.uk
- Its the London Critical Mass monthly bike ride 11th
birthday party happening on the 29th April. Meet on the southbank
at Waterloo 6pm www.cmlondon.enrager.net
- The court case to get an injunction against SmashEDO (SchNEWS
492) has been adjourned for 1 week with no restrictions on
protest. There is a noise demo outside the factory on Weds (20)
at 4pm at EDO, Home Farm Rd, off Lewes Rd, Brighton.
Twenty-two year old Animal/Earth Liberation prisoner Chris McIntosh
is currently awaiting trial in Seattle, accused of an arson which
caused $5,000 damage to a McDonalds. Hes been charged
with Animal Enterprise Terrorism and facing up to 30 years in prison.
Chris is in desperate need of support! Send letters to Christopher
McIntosh 30512-013, FDC SeaTac, Federal Detention Center, PO BOX
13900, Seattle, WA 98198 (all mail must include a full return address
on the front of the envelope) www.supportchris.org
For years the government have been screwing up the implementation
of computer systems and have been fleeced by IT companies who realise
that once they win (short for wine, dine and donate
enough to get given) the contract, it is practically impossible
for the government to bail out, regardless of minor things like
poor performance, security flaws and huge escalation of costs. Why
bother with the complex task of holding these companies accountable
when its far easier for the good old taxpayers to pick up
the bill? There seems to be no incentive to actually deliver a decent
value for money product that works - firms like EDS and Capita have
repeatedly been awarded new contracts despite failing on their previous
ones. Ah, the joy of business!
Despite the recent messes at, for example, the Child Support Agency,
the Passport Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions, Air Traffic
Control and with the National Insurance computers, its not
all bad news; a parliamentary committee has found that the project
to link up all the UK intelligence agencies into one glorious big
brother style system is not going well. The system, called Scope
(..for abuse? SchNEWS wonders) is running three years late, doesnt
work properly and is 50% over budget, although just how many millions
of our pounds this is has been kept secret for, er, security reasons.
So it looks as though weve got until at least 2007 before
the newest weapons against democratic protests and political subversion,
oh no sorry, I mean terrorism, are in place make
the most of it!
SchNEWS warns all readers off their trolley its time to
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