A crunchy, natural food company marketed to liberals discreetly sues to stop covering employees’ contraception
Cafe chain executive to face questions from MPs, while protesters plan to turn branches into creches and refuges
Security firm issues ‘sincere apologies’ for treatment of stewards but insists it did not exploit workers
The former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott has written to the home secretary to complain about a security firm that used unpaid jobseekers to steward the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations in London.
He said he was “deeply concerned” by the revelations, published in the Guardian on Tuesday, that up to 30 unpaid jobseekers on the government’s work programme were asked to sleep under London Bridge before the river pageant on Sunday.
He is calling for Theresa May to investigate whether the company has broken the security industry’s own employment standards and is urging the government to review the company’s contract for the Olympics.
The firm, Close Protection UK (CPUK), has issued “sincere apologies” for what it called the “London Bridge incident”, but insisted that it had not been exploiting individuals but providing work experience.
Up to 30 jobseekers and another 50 people on apprentice wages were taken to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth on Saturday before the pageant on Sunday as part of the government’s work programme.
Two jobseekers, who did not want to be identified in case they lost their benefits, later told the Guardian that they had to camp under London Bridge overnight, to change into security gear in public, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift in the pouring rain on the banks of the Thames on Sunday.
In the letter, Prescott said the situation raised “very serious questions” about the “suitability of using private security contractors to do frontline policing instead of trained police officers” and that the company had shown a “blatant disregard for the care of its workers”.
He wrote: “It is totally unacceptable that young unemployed people were bussed in to London from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth and forced to sleep out in the cold overnight before stewarding a major event with no payment.
“I am deeply concerned that a private security firm is not only providing policing on the cheap but failing to show a duty of care to its staff and threatening to withdraw an opportunity to work at the Olympics as a means to coerce them to work unpaid.” …
President Obama’s health reform law forced health insurance companies to largely stop canceling medical coverage to patients after being diagnosed with a disease. Rescissions, as they are known, allowed insurers to cancel individual market policies by finding spelling errors or minor mistakes in coverage applications as an excuse to halt treatment for patients.
An investigation found five health insurance companies operating in California had rescinded care for sick patients in over 20,000 instances. A congressional hearing following the study revealed cases in which people died after having vital health coverage rescinded. One of the health care companies that engaged in this practice, including in California, is UnitedHealth’s Golden Rule Insurance company.
Recently leaked document show that Golden Rule actually funneled large donations to a nonprofit “think tank” that fought aggressively to defend the right of insurance companies to engage in rescissions. The leaked documents, all relating to the fundraising operation of the Heartland Institute, have largely been covered by the media only through the lens of the group’s dedication to anti-climate science propaganda. But given the Heartland Institute’s lobbying against certain aspects of health reform, the Golden Rule donations are just as important.
Golden Rule gave $40,030 to the Heartland Institute in 2010, followed by a $250,000 donation last year and another $250,000 pledged for this year, according to the documents. The money is earmarked for the Heartland Institute’s health care policy program. …
Last year, Congress passed three trade deals with foreign countries — South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. Although these deals were referred to in mainstream political debate as “free trade” agreements, the truth is that all three agreements protected certain industries over others rather than completely drop trade barriers. The agreements, like past free trade pacts, also favor multinational corporation interests over those of workers and U.S. jobs and over protection of health, safety and the environment. …
Workers in Cambodia will hold a “people’s tribunal” next week to investigate pay and conditions at factories working for fashion brands including H&M and Gap.
An international panel of judges will hear evidence from workers, factories and multinational brands including Puma and Adidas. H&M said it would not attend but would supply information about how it was addressing wages at its suppliers’ factories in the country.
The two-day hearing aims to raise awareness of low pay and long working hours that workers say are partly responsible for a series of “mass faintings” involving hundreds of workers at factories supplying H&M, Gap and sports brands.
Up to 300 workers will give evidence about the fainting incidents and about living conditions resulting from low wages.
The minimum wage in Cambodia is the equivalent of just $66 (£42) a month, a level that human rights groups say is almost half that required to meet basic needs.
Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Coalition for Apparel Workers Democratic Unions, said: “Because the workers get low wages they try to work 10 to 13 hours a day to get the money they need for their family.”
He said workers needed a basic wage equivalent to at least $100 (£63) a month to get by without putting their health in danger. “Workers are fainting because of long working hours and the environment in the factory,” he said.
Fumes from chemicals, poor ventilation, malnutrition and even “mass hysteria” have all been blamed for making workers ill. …
How Much do America’s Big Corporations Pay in Taxes?
Carol Bartz sacked as online firm struggles to match the might of Silicon Valley giants Google and Apple
Five years ago Robert Emmel was enjoying the American dream. He lived in a detached house in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, drove a BMW, and earned $140,000 a year as an accounts director in a highly successful advertising company called News America Marketing.
Today, Emmel is described by his lawyers as destitute. Jobless and in debt, he was discharged from bankruptcy last year. He does occasional consultancy work that last month brought in $500, and this month, court documents show, will probably produce nothing. His wife’s earnings raise monthly household income to about $3,000 – half their outgoings.
This is a cautionary tale about what can happen to someone who dares to become a corporate whistleblower. Or, more specifically, someone who incurs the wrath of News Corporation, the media empire owned by Rupert Murdoch, of which News America forms a part.
Emmel’s lawyer, Philip Hilder, has had a ringside seat at the gradual unravelling of his client’s life. A former federal prosecutor based in Houston, Texas, Hilder is well versed in whistleblower cases having represented Sherron Watkins, who helped uncover the Enron scandal. Hilder said: “News America has engaged in Rambo litigation tactics. They have a scorched earth policy, and it’s taken a huge toll on him.” …