HUMAN RIGHTS — THE PRODUCT OF COLLECTIVE STRUGGLE

by Chris Jarvis

Yesterday was the International Human Rights Day, a brief moment when the world recognises and remembers the value and history of human rights. A central element to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights — the founding document of contemporary human rights legislation and protection — are the rights of workers. Article 20 of the declaration enshrines the right to freedom of association — the right to join and form trades unions. Trade union rights are further guaranteed through Article 23, which also recognises the right to free choice of employment, fair and favourable working conditions, protection against unemployment, equal pay for equal work and fair remuneration for an individual’s labour.

Traditional narratives around human rights are that they are a result of the work of international declarations, legislative frameworks and statesmanlike politicians. Unsurprisingly, none of these are true. It’s important to acknowledge that human rights, and particularly the rights of workers, have rarely been gifted to us through benevolent leaders. Rather, they have been won after long fought battles and collective struggle.Continue Reading

BURNHAM CAN’T SAVE US: A RESPONSE TO ‘THE BEATING HEART OF LABOUR’

by Chris Jarvis

On August 21st, The Norwich Radical published an article — The Beating Heart of Labour — where the writer endorsed Andy Burnham in the Labour Leadership Election. Over the next 1,000 words, I intend to address the primary arguments in that article and why I believe them to be fundamentally wrong; why I believe Andy Burnham to be just as damaging to the Labour Party, its electoral prospects and likewise the country as Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, and why Jeremy Corbyn, albeit far from a political panacea, is without doubt the best candidate in the election and therefore the arguments presented in the previous piece are misguided and wrong.

The first major pitfall of the argument is rooted in what the article itself critiques —  that Corbyn is unelectable. While Senior is right to reject the mythical notion of ‘electability’ as the primary motivation a member should have in selecting one leadership candidate over another, by suggesting that ‘economic credibility’ is central to any successful general election strategy, she fails to dismiss the electability myth for what it is— a rhetorical creation designed by a right wing media and out of touch political commentators to silence radicalism and deviation from political norms. The concept of a candidate or a political perspective as being ‘electable’ as we commonly understand it relies on the assumption that public opinion is somehow unmovable — that the political position of the electorate is largely static, and the role of political parties is to move towards it, and whichever is best and simulating this elusive point of view will win any forthcoming election.Continue Reading

AN OPEN LETTER TO DAVID MCNALLY: MAKE NORWICH CITY FC A ZERO CARBON CLUB

by Rowan Van Tromp

Dear Mr McNally,

I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing the news that Norwich City FC are committed to introducing the living wage — as set by The Living Wage Foundation — to all permanent colleagues across the business by the 2016/17 season, as well as reviewing wage policies of external agencies and contractors who work at the club, to make sure staff also receive the Living Wage by 2016-17. Whilst this is a great step forward in becoming a club that takes its social responsibility seriously, we’re still lagging way behind on environmental sustainability.

One club that’s made huge strides forward in this area is Forest Green Rovers, owned by Dale Vince, the founder of the green energy company — Ecotricity. Since taking over in 2010 the club has implemented many measures to improve their environmental performance and in doing so has achieved the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) — the gold standard for environmental performance, along with international recognition as the world’s leading club in this field.Continue Reading

LIVING WAGE: NOT AN ACT OF CHARITY

by Katy Quigley, UEA Unison Equalities Rep

Over the last six weeks a campaign has slowly taken shape for the Living Wage to be introduced at UEA. Whilst this mainly affects the trade union Unison’s members, the two other trade unions on campus – UCU and Unite – as well as the Union of UEA students, have all begun to work together to ensure that those at the lowest end of the pay scale are paid a fair wage.

With the minimum wage set at £6.50 for those aged 21 and over, many people are confused about the point of a Living Wage campaign, or even what the Living Wage would mean in real terms. The reality is that the minimum wage simply does not pay enough to provide what members of the public, according to research undertaken by the University of Loughborough, deem an ‘acceptable standard of living’. At the moment this is set at £7.85. The Living Wage is not an act of charity: paying workers a fair wage for their living gives them dignity, reduces sickness and absence rates, and improves staff retention rates.  When a business does not pay the Living Wage it is local support groups, council services, and national welfare that pick up more of the bill to top up the worker’s income.

Employers who do not pay the Living Wage are therefore asking people to earn their poverty, and the University of East Anglia is unfortunately one of the culprits.

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LIVING WAGE: ‘WHAT’S GOING ON?’

by Mark Hughes

‘What’s going on’? Was a questioned asked by Marvin Gaye in 1971, when his same titled album was released. It was a question that Gaye raised in his own mind after coming to the conclusion that American society after the Vietnam war had descended into a catalogue of civil right abuses, injustice, and inequality.

In today’s Britain it will not be surprising if the same rhetorical question as once asked by Gaye is still not prevalent amongst the workers of Gt Britain. Standing dazed and blinking as they witness a wave of attacks upon their living standards, pension rights, housing costs, and a whole raft of government measures designed to remove the security of the welfare state. The working people of Gt Britain cannot be blamed for asking the same question, ‘what is going on’?Continue Reading