Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism


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Protest against Marks and Spencer over Indian sweatshop (via the commune)

Marks and Spencer want to look good to their customers, but they also want to keep their profit margin looking healthy. Fair enough, but not when it means that Indian workers, who produce good for Marks and Spencer and other shops, are being beaten. The contractor, Viva Global, has a history of labour-law violations and human-rights abuses.

Join the protest at Marks and Spencer’s Oxford Street shop on Saturday morning, and/or write and ask why they persist in using such an outfit:

Marks and Spencer Group plc
Waterside House
35 North Wharf Road
London
W2 1NW

protest against marks and spencer over indian sweatshop Join a solidarity protest in front of the Marks and Spencer store, 173 Oxford Street, London – 11 am, Saturday 4th September 2010 From a press release of Mazdoor Ekta Manch, a union based in Gurgaon: Workers of the Viva Global Factory, including women were brutally beaten up with hockey sticks and lathis [canes] by goons called in by the Management of Viva Global, the Gurgaon based sweatshop apparel house. The incident happened on 23rd of August … Read More

via the commune


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British jobs because of migrant workers

British jobs for British workersLast year, the slogan British jobs for British workers became popular, even spoken by the Prime Minister. And what’s not to like about a catchy slogan like that? Keep unemployment down! New job creation! However, it seems that a lot of people were brandishing the slogan to say ‘kick the immigrants out’.

If one takes a very simplistic view of supply-and-demand economics, one might paint a picture like this: there are x British workers employed in British jobs, y immigrants come along and work for lower pay, knocking y British workers out of jobs. When you look behind the rhetoric of the anti-immigration campaigners, the maths is no more developed than that over-simplistic little picture.

The maths is wrong for a number of reasons, partly because employers don’t buy and sell employees like football mangers, but mainly because the total number of jobs at any one time is not constant. And all the evidence points to immigration increasing the number of jobs in this country. Yes, they come over here and they make more jobs (not take our jobs)!

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Hi, honey, I’m home!

The era of evening- and weekend-only daddies should have gone out with the flatcap and trilby, but, no, fathers on full-time jobs plus overtime are increasingly the norm. The thing is the majority of British dads actually want to be spending more time with their kids. The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Fathers, Family and Work Report, published last Wednesday, says that 62% of dads surveyed want to spend more time caring for their children.

The aphorism goes ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’. So, if all these dads want to be caring for their kids more, there must be a way of doing it. But I’ve the sense that this view has been gaining ground for the last decade, or more, without getting very far. The revolution in fatherhood has only clocked up one major victory so far: two weeks’ paternity leave, at a minimum of £120 a week, secured for the brothers in 2003. Continue reading


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The first shall be first, and the last shall be deported

But many that are first will be last, and the last first. — Matthew 19.30

If we try not to spiritualise what Jesus says in his parable of the workers in the vineyard too much, it is literally about giving a fair minimum wage and equality in the labour market. Although literal exegesis is often given a bad press, it’s useful to state sometimes what the Bible actually says before jumping into interpretative dance with it. This parable is one of many in which Jesus demonstrates his Upside-Down Kingdom, his anti-establishment manifesto. It’s the kind of thing that we in the church try to sermonise out of existence.

This all comes to mind when I think about the raw issues surrounding immigration in Britain, the whipped hysteria served up by the Daily Hate, pandered to by Tories and the Labour Right before even thinking about the absurdist criminals that call themselves BNP. I find it odd how, seeing as migration has been part of human nature since we learnt the trick of walking upright, draconian administration of border controls is a recent phenomenon and has been spun as something right-thinking and normal.

One incident happened recently that showed me what this is all about. On Friday 12 June 2009, members of the cleaning staff at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) were invited to an emergency meeting with their employers, ISS, a subcontractor to SOAS, over pay and conditions. The meeting was raided by immigration officers supported by police in riot gear. It must have been terrifying for the cleaners, many of whom were ‘illegal immigrants’ (almost ‘illegal humans’). Many of them had lived and worked in London for a number of years, and subsisted on meagre wages. They were deported.

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