A plea to Bruce Springsteen re: Vodafone sponsorship

Posted on Sun 4th Dec 2011, 2:04pm

Dear Bruce,

Your music is fantastic. Your massive show planned for 12 July 2012 in London's Hyde Park sure promises to be one hell of a day. However, we’re horrified to see that the communications and tax-dodging giant Vodafone is sponsoring the show. This short statement is a request for you to disassociate yourself from Vodafone or for you to at least make a public statement of solidarity on the day. Please let us explain.

The UK is currently facing £111bn worth of public sector cuts from a Conservative coalition government. These cuts make Margaret Thatcher look like a Liberal.

Over 700,000 public sector workers are facing the chop, our health system is being slowly privatised, people will lose their homes, and vital front line public services are being shut down. In addition, employment rights and the minimum wage are under threat as the government seeks to make people work for free in return for social security, creating an army of cheap labour.

These cuts are all taking place under the guise of broken Britain. “We have no money”, the government says. And yet some £25billion worth of UK tax is avoided every single year by the largest corporations and the richest people.

A popular civil society movement is growing in the UK with people from all walks of life calling for the government to stop the cuts and start reclaiming the money that is owed to us from the richest in our society.

Vodafone has avoided between £6bn and £8bn in tax over the past 10 years. This is an obscene amount of money. What’s more, last month it paid a record dividend of £6bn to its shareholders. That £6bn is our money. That £6bn needs to be invested into keeping our struggling public services running. That £6bn needs to be invested into our hospitals. That £6bn could be invested into public infrastructure to kick start our ailing economy.

For the past year UK citizens across the country have been shutting down Vodafone stores in disgust at this company’s attitude to our country. This is a British company that has thrived off our public services but is doing everything it can to contribute as little as possible in return.

You have a proud tradition of supporting just causes. You headlined the Amnesty Human Rights Tour, you’ve supported Vietnam War Veterans, Barack Obama, and have sung alongside Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. Your songs, ‘Ghost of Tom Joad’ and ‘Youngstown’ are powerful works about poverty and the power of multinational corporations.

In 1984 you turned down millions of dollars from the Chrysler Corporation to use your song ‘Born in the USA’ in an advert. Please now make a powerful stand for ordinary folk in the UK and reject Vodafone’s sponsorship cash, or at least stand with us at your live show and make a statement of solidarity.


Live blog on November 30th strike

Posted on Wed 30th Nov 2011, 8:48am

Guest post: Why I'm striking

Posted on Tue 29th Nov 2011, 5:00pm
This is a guest post from two public sector workers taking part in strike action tomorrow

In September of this year I started working as a Learning Support Assistant in an inner-London comprehensive school. More precisely, I started working with 4 students in year 7 who are on the autistic spectrum. I also joined UNISON and so on the 30 November I will be striking. I encourage everyone else in the public sector to do likewise.

Official figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week showed that the pay of the top tenth of earners rocketed 18 times faster than the bottom tenth. At the same time, the UK average income has fallen by 3.5% in real terms. These figures are appearing because the Tories represent the rich and have utter contempt for normal working people. Their attack on pensions is another savage example of this. My pension, unlike George Osborne’s, will not be £33,000 a year. I cannot afford to work for longer, pay more for my pension and subsequently receive less. Like so many others, I am striking because I simply cannot afford not to.

The Con-Dem coalition as well as the majority of the mainstream press have and will continue to attempt to undermine the strike with myths and lies, claiming the strike is unnecessary and that those who are striking are immoral and selfish. But millions of workers across the country have seen through these vicious lies and have voted for strike action.

On November 30 I will be proud to be on strike. I will be proud to be part of the largest strike since the general strike of 1926. I will be proud to march next to teachers, support staff, nurses, civil servants, pensioners, students and private sector workers. I will be proud to be part of the growing resistance to austerity and cuts.

I am a 24 year old youth worker in Hackney, and I am going to be taking strike action for the first time on November 30. It might seem odd for a 24 year old to be angry about pensions, but this is not an isolated issue. We have been told that providing a decent pension for workers is something that the country cannot afford. There are some things that society cannot afford, but pensions should not be one of them. The High Pay Commission recently released a report that despite the financial crisis executives’ pay packets have remained high and grotesque banker bonuses are still very much the norm. The government say that the public purse has to save, yet they continue to pursue their needless costly ‘restructuring’ proposal for the NHS. And at least £25 billion of tax is dodged by the wealthy every year.

The mainstream media portrays the governments’ ongoing cuts agenda, ‘restructuring’ projects and demonstrations of public anger as isolated stories. But they’re not; they are all part of a bigger picture.

On November 30 over 3 million public sector workers are set to go on strike. We are trying to bring the country to a stand still for one day, a day to highlight the danger posed by this government. Without large scale public resistance, the government will continue its war on public services. We are standing up against the cuts, in defence of our public services, in defence of a good pension for everybody.

Why don’t you come join us? Or at least bring us a cup of tea!

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