Modern Day Slavery: Wage Slaves

This is part two of three posts about modern day slavery. Here is the first, End Modern Slavery:

Unrecognised modern Slavery – “wage slaves.”

“whoever gives his labor for money sells himself and puts himself in the rank of slaves.”

The capitalists owned everything in the world, and everyone else was their slave. They owned all the land, all the houses, all the factories, and all the money. If anyone disobeyed them they could throw them into prison, or they could take his job away and starve him to death.
Nineteen Eighty-four, by George Orwell

“In the same way that we today think that the slave trade and colonial exploitation were inhuman and inconceivably bestial ways of acquiring riches, there is no doubt that coming generations will think that our form of world trade and distribution of the world’s benefits were just as inconceivable and inhuman.” 
Erik Dammann

Is working for a wage a modern form of slavery

Though not quite in the same league as the examples of slavery in the first article there are many similarities, most people are in fact enslaved to some degree. The need for shelter, food and clothing, basic needs for every human being comes at a price – your freedom and autonomy. The reality is all employees are faced with the starkest choice and that is to work for an employer or face poverty or starvation. 

For low wages the vast majority of us slave away our precious existence for the sole purpose of making huge profits for big corporations, often having two or more jobs just to pay our rent or mortgage, to put food on the table and to provide warmth and clothing, all vital for our existence. In the modern world most of us hate our jobs, we have few rights at work, long hours with constant pressure to produce or achieve more, low wages and so on, all of which we have to accept in order to try and keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs.  We accept this exploitation, which is in my opinion a form of slavery not much different from that of a medieval surf, with the exception that while the serf/slave would literally be dragged back if he escaped and may even pay with his life. In many ways, more subtle maybe but almost as binding, similar slavery of the majority continues in modern times. Okay we may have more luxuries compared with the serfs of times past but don’t let this fool you, in reality most of us own very little even after working our entire life. You may be considered an home owner, but your home is not yours until you have paid your mortgage, that car you may have on credit likewise is not yours, nor any of the gizmos and gadgets, the latest furniture, your fitted kitchen or bathroom and the endless embellishments we deem vital to our quality of life, if these have been paid for by credit. In reality most people are but one pay cheque away from homelessness, poverty and destitution.  Even when you home is your own,  if you are lucky enough to keep a job with a decent wage throughout  the twenty to thirty years you make repayments, when you are too old or too ill to work you may not be able to maintain your property on the puny pension or benefits doled out by the state – if you are of course fortunate to receive such as governments both here and in the US do their utmost to destroy social security  – and you end your life sinking deeper and deeper into poverty or debt and your home can be taken from you if you do not pay.

Did you know that many people do not have savings over £100 even after working all their lives, 17 million UK citizens to be exact. Faced with an unexpected bill these people are likely to be forced into debt and further deprivation if they are not able to pay their debt, such as the loss of their home which they may have struggled to pay for their entire working lives or an inability to pay rent. We are all nowadays just one pay check from homelessness.

One in three families are a month’s pay from losing homes, says study

We therefore cannot walk off from our jobs even if our lives are made a misery, and we are overworked and underpaid and barely subsisting for we would lose what little we have. Those of us with families would not wish to abandon our children to homelessness and abject poverty would we. So we continue to slave away for big corporations who profit from our labour giving the minimum required in return.

It may be argued that people who work for a wage are not slaves because they have the legal right to leave a particular employer, though in reality this is often not an option in these times of job scarcity as the fear of  quitting your job and not finding another is prohibitive. So many workers would be extremely reluctant to exercise this right even when they are paid low wages and working long hours with few if any rights in the workplace.

The only right that a wage worker has is that he or she is not the slave of any particular employer, but he or she is still a slave of the capitalist system. You have the right to leave one employer but you have to soon find another and no matter how  awful your job is – long hours and low wages, pressure, even harassment in the workplace – with so few jobs and the likelihood of not getting employment benefits because you have made yourself unemployed few hesitate to change jobs. As you lack any means of sustaining your life you are bound to an employer and these days you have little freedom to pick and choose. In the past when jobs were plentiful employers did not have the power they have now and it was easier to change jobs and secure better wages and conditions, for example in the sixties or seventies you could walk out of a job one morning and find another by the afternoon, though of course this is still wage slavery people back than had more say about where they worked and the conditions they worked under.

Furthermore employers often conspire together to keep wages low, and in recent decades with the decline of trade union influence employers have the upper hand in conflicts between workers and themselves.

“…the elite maintain wage slavery by dividing the working class through their influence over the media and entertainment industry,]educational institutions, unjust laws, nationalist and corporate propaganda, pressures and incentives to internalize values serviceable to the power structure, state violence, fear of unemployment and a historical legacy of exploitation and profit accumulation/transfer under prior systems, which shaped the development of economic theory”:

Yes in the rest of your life you have a certain amount of freedom but your time is very limited these days, work demands most of your waking life and the time you do have off you are probably too weary and tired both physically and emotionally to appreciate it. Moreover if on a low wage you may not have the freedom to participate fully in society, to enjoy entertainment, hobbies and other pass times, you may not even earn enough to eat or pay your rent or mortgage. Most people who use food banks are wage earners.

We are therefore slaves exploited for our labour.

I am profoundly shocked concerning the exploitations of vulnerable people, such grave social injustice has no place in any ethical progressive society. I fail to understand the mindset of those who exploit others in the name of personal gain, or in other words rampant greed. Life is precious to all of us and should be lived as much as possible in the way we wish to live. While work of course has to be done it should be fairly distributed, necessary and compensated with a wage that allows not only the necessities of life, but to allow for a quality of life. It should be a basic human right to have the opportunities to fulfill our hopes and dreams, not forced into wasting our precious existence slaving away for some greedy corporation, our lives taken to make another person rich.

Look at what you do. For Many of us our lives and the world’s resources are wasted producing useless luxuries or we produce goods that are deliberately wasted to keep prices high – Have you ever considered what becomes of unsold clothing in stores at the end of the season. Most of it ends up in landfill,11.9 million tons of unwanted clothing a year     This is the labour of so many people, mostly in sweatshops in so called developing countries, wasted for profit. Even if some of it is recycled as required by the EU it is nonetheless wasteful to destroy perfectly good clothing which so many people need and all for the sake of profit for the few. Sadly for many your job has one purpose and that is to make your boss rich. The waste of resources to continue to produce huge accumulations of pointless items wastes our lives. Such is produced to make a small minority rich – ask yourself do we need an entire supermarket shelf just so we can have a huge choice of shampoo such as for greasy hair, dry hair, normal hair, dandruff, for bleached hair, colored hair, for thickening hair, for babies, shampoos with hints of tints. And there will be several brands of the same.  A shop in my town is filled with ridiculous plastic trinkets, hair ornaments, junk jewelry, endless handbags, shopping bags all shapes and sizes, each year the young and fashion conscious persuaded they need the latest bag, shoes, jewelry and endless junk produced at the expense of the worlds dwindling resources simply to increase profits.

“Capitalism is slavery in so many ways. Consumers become enslaved by so many choices, and by becoming the victims of corporate America, who have ingrained people to believe they need things they don’t need. Capitalism is a sad commentary on human nature, and only serves to entrench the have-nots for their entire lives.”

“Any educated person would agree…Yes, it is.
Understanding the difference between capitalism, socialism, and communism is a wise place to start. Capitalism operates as a guise under freedom by promising those that are less fortunate too have the possibility of becoming a capitalist themselves, however they will spend their entire lives toiling to never reach that promised ending.”

Comments included in an online debate

The second comment addresses the reason that despite all the misery that capitalism has caused since forever – but most particularly in recent times –  is the implied promise that one day workers may also be capitalists themselves, the fact that this is just a pipe dream and logically could never happen seems to elude most people.

Action to end modern day slavery

“We know all too well that many workers in Asia endure forced labor to bring us the garments, foods, electronics and other goods we enjoy.

The good news is Australia is taking steps towards creating new modern slavery laws that could improve protections for vulnerable workers worldwide and we need your help to make it happen.”

Read More and sign the petition:

This petition concerns more conventional modern slavery and not slavery in the context discussed in the above article. The petition is worth signing as bringing about such changes globally will improve the lives of millions of exploited people worldwide.

Please also add your name to a letter to urge UK fashion brands to protect women who make our clothes.


Many people the world over suffer abuse at work in silence afraid that they will loose their livelihood, become homeless, destitute and poverty stricken. This is surely a form of slavery.

Related Links

Working: No More Than A Wage Slave

America’s Favorite Anarchist Thinks Most US Workers Are Wage Slaves

Wage slavery



Please Sign a Petition: Urge Congress to Increase the Federal Minimum Wage – Other Petitions

“A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation.”
Adam Smith


I hope that you will sign and share the following petition and as many of the petitions that you will find further down.

Urge Congress to Increase the Federal Minimum Wage

According to the Center for American Progress, raising the federal minimum wage to just $10.90 would lift 4.5 million Americans out of poverty, benefitting as many as one in five children in the country.  – it may be a long standing feature however wages have stagnated in the last ten years

As you will see if you scroll down this is certainly not the only petition concerning low pay.

Low wages it seems are an endemic facet of our society and one that needs to end now! Whether it is the UK, the USA, or indeed the world over millions are being exploited by low wages. In particular there are many similarities between the USA and the UK concerning low pay. People are having their lives stolen from them as they slave away their precious existence on low wages to make another person rich while they themselves sink further into poverty. Here in the UK workers have just been through the longest period of falling real wages since Queen Victoria.

In the UK

According to the Roundtree Foundation

Low pay is endemic in the UK labour market. While the issue has recently moved to the forefront of the public debate on employment and job quality, it is a longstanding feature of the UK economy. More than one in five workers in the UK experience low pay, a proportion that has changed little in more than 25 years.

In the USA

Fight for $15 swells into largest protest by low-wage workers in US history

“Workers in more than 200 cities walked out on jobs or joined protests bankrolled by organized labor on Wednesday in latest bid to raise minimum wage

Workers in Atlanta, Boston, New York, Los Angeles and more than 200 cities across the US walked out on their jobs or joined marches and protests on Wednesday during what organisers claimed was the largest protest by low-wage workers in US history.”

Read More:

For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades

“… after adjusting for inflation, today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, following a long slide in the 1980s and early 1990s and bumpy, inconsistent growth since then. In fact, in real terms the average wage peaked more than 40 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 has the same purchasing power as $22.41 would today.

What gains have been made, have gone to the upper income brackets. Since 2000, usual weekly wages have fallen 3.7% (in real terms) among workers in the lowest tenth of the earnings distribution, and 3% among the lowest quarter. But among people near the top of the distribution, real wages have risen 9.7%.”

In Asia

Where most of our clothing is made by exploitative western companies who pay low wages for long hours working in poor conditions

Dignity not Poverty.

“Garment workers should earn a living wage which can sustain a decent life.

In most garment producing countries a living wage is a far cry. The garment industry is the key source of foreign income for many countries across Asia , employing millions, yet the low wages earned are trapping workers across the region into a cycle of poverty with severe consequences for workers and their families.”

Low wages destroy lives keeping people in poverty worldwide. Though long overdue finally people are standing up for their rights at least in the USA. Unfortunately here in the UK people seem to offer little resistance to low pay and the misery it entails. Even the unions seem ineffectual. Sometimes we can seem so powerless against the onslaught of greed and exploitation where the rich and powerful can never seem sate their appetite for more and more profit at our expense.

Please sign as many of the petitions below as you can. We need to demand a better life for us all, for our children and succeeding generations and demand an end to exploitative low wages for increasingly longer and longer hours. Don’t get confused between a minimum wage and a living wage. They should of course mean the same thing, the basic minimum wage should be the living wage than some, as the introductory quote suggests. More often than not the basic minimum wage is not a living wage.

Petitions relating to low pay, minimum wage and living wage.

Please sign the petition to The Mayor, Boris Johnson

“London hotels are among the most expensive in the world yet not one of them pays the living wage of £8.80 per hour, the price of a couple of coffees in the capital city.”

Petition: Do you work in fast food or retail? Do you think you deserve better?  – includes a link to a seperate petition for supporters who are not low paid to sign

Petition to CEOs of Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsburys,
Please pay all your staff at least the living wage. This is £7.45 an hour rather than £6.19 which is the legally enforced minimum wage:

A Petition to Picturehouse Cinemas, backed by the TUC, BECTU this is a petition appealing to all of the group’s customers to support payment of the Living Wage to the majority of the company’s staff who are paid much less than the Living Wage. You don’t of course need to be a customer of Picturehouse to sign

Please sign the petition: Support Airport Workers Demanding $15/hour

Raise the Minimum Wage Petition

Petition Make Chocolate Fair
Help to make chocolate fair and get a fair deal for farmers. While not a wages issue in the strictest sense it is a similar type of exploitation. – the petition is right at the top corner of the right side of the webpage.

Petition: pay US$177 as a minimum wage to Cambodian workers

“For Cambodian garment workers the current minimum wage of US$100 a month is not enough to provide for even their most basic needs. Garment workers across the country are calling for an immediate increase to US$177 as a crucial step in the fight for a living wage.”

Other action to help garment workers around the world

“The CCC is a coalition of organisations, student groups and individuals all with the same goal – to demand a change in the industry and the recognition and respect for the Human Rights of garment workers around the world. If you want to be a part of this work and get active, just pop your email in below and you’ll be added to our list of activists that take part in some very simple actions that we send out as the need arises (we promise not to inundate you!)”

The above is just a drop in the ocean of petitions and campaigns to end low pay to add them all would be overwhelming. It is time for things to change globally and legislation has to bring about such change.

“We stand for a living wage. Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living–a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit of reasonable saving for old age.”
President Theodore Roosevelt

Related Links
Check out and compare wages worldwide

In a Just Society There is no Need for Charity


tessco food bank promotion

While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”
Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah

I nearly passed this without really taking in what it said, we get so many advertisements pushed at us that we begin to automatically ignore them and it wasn’t until leaving the shop that I noticed the focus of the advertising was local food banks. A promotional campaign to increase Tesco sales,  after all in October profits were down by 92 percent, or was it a genuine act of charity to help struggling families in our community?  As a cynic and a doubter in the goodness of big business I rather think it’s the former rather than the latter. Did someone in a sale promotional brain storming meeting come up with this idea not only to sell more but to promote Tesco as a compassionate and caring retailer? The idea was to get people to donate while Tesco added a 30% top up. The motivation of such an action may never be known. 

This nationwide food collection is now over, it lasted only three days, so I am really thinking now that yes it was a public relations gimmick to  boost sales. After all three days is a drop in the ocean and is not going to come anywhere near preventing people going hungry in our community. The next one is not until July!

According the The Thrustle Trust the idea was “to provide emergency food to local people in crisis – in partnership with Tesco and Fareshare. By donating at your local Tesco store on 27th, 28th and 29th November you can help stop people going hungry in your community. Simply pick up one of our shopping lists and donate an item or two (or more!) at your nearest store.”

The point however is not to make a judgement about Tesco one way or another but rather to question the need for charity in the sixth richest country in the world. In a just and fair society,  and in the case of the UK an affluent society, should you need to donate food so you “can help stop people going hungry in your community”.

Here is the latest news concerning the increase in the number of food banks, in this case Edinburgh:

MORE than 10,000 struggling residents were forced to use Capital food banks in the past year, figures have revealed.

The statistics suggest more than four times as many people were fed by The Trussell Trust – the UK’s largest food bank provider – in 2014 than the previous year.

“The rise has been huge, and it seems to be the case right across the board,” he said.

“The major thing we have seen increasing is the number of people that have been referred to us because of their low income.

“A lot of those people are on static incomes or zero-hours contracts. There has been a huge rise in the cost of living and that’s put people under pressure.”

This is just one example of the extent of food bank use here in the UK. Latest food bank figures top 900, 000 

Interesting to note that Tesco along with Argos and Homebase use zero hour contracts or near enough

Some of Britain’s biggest high street stores are paying staff as little as £19 a week on miserly short-hours contracts.

Many working for our major retailers are employed on deals guaranteeing as little as three hours of work a week, a Sunday Mirror investigation has found.

On the minimum wage of £6.31 an hour that would add up to weekly pay of just £18.93 for the minimum three hours.

And even if they work many more hours than that minimum in an average week, some employees are still entitled to just three hours worth of holiday pay when they take a week off.


The forward march of zero-hours contracts must be halted

“It’s the uncertainty that gets to me,” Shirley says, despondently. “These contracts only work one way – they don’t offer any flexibility even if you wanted it because if you turn down hours you suffer. One of the girls had her hours permanently reduced because she asked the line manager for a day off to take her child to the doctors. From that day on her card was marked”.

Read More:

It is outrageous that Tesco launches a food bank donation scheme while it is they themselves and others like them that are helping to cause the problem of food poverty here in the UK: The Department of Health (England) recognises food poverty as “the inability to afford, or to have access to, food to make up a healthy diet.”

If  you look at the list there is nothing very healthy or nutritious. Tins of meat, fish, peas, soup, fruit, also pasta,cooking sauces , tea, rice, coffee and UHT Milk

Nothing much if you ‘re vegetarian or vegan or on a special diet such as a diabetic. Concerning the classification of food poverty.  Keep in mind that people go beyond this definition and may go entirely without food as is the case for many parents who go without so that their children do not go hungry.

We also need to consider the following questions:

Should the provision of life essentials be left to charity? Should food and other basic necessities for life be sold at a profit?

I am by no means saying that it is not good to support charities by donations to food banks, on the contrary if charities did not exist people would simply go without,  but it’s not the ideal by a long shot.  The ideal of course is that every member of society has enough according to his or her need, most particularly food, shelter, warmth and the means to live a fulfilling life with the money to enjoy the same pastimes hobbies and interests as everyone else. In an ethical progressive country no one should work long hours for low wages, no one who is sick or disabled should live in poverty at the mercy of a government who can reduce and even cut benefits entirely, as is the case with the vicious benefit cuts in recent years, most particularly since the coalition government weren’t elected.

Please note

Though I question Tesco’s motives I understand why the Trussell Trust Supported the supermarket’s campaign without which there would be less food available at food banks.  

Please support the Trussell Trust and other charities working tirelessly supporting the under privileged in our society. But please always bear in mind that the ideal is to change the way the essentials of life are distributed. The fact that food an essential for life is sold at a profit is something that needs to change not only here but world-wide along with the other essentials of life. Frankly until we rid ourselves of capitalism, particularly in the extreme unbridled form of recent years, we will never have a fair world, people will continue to die of hunger, preventable disease, live wretched and impoverished lives struggling to get by and it can only get worse as it is doing so now as more and more people slip into poverty of varying degrees.

We have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We are still called upon to give aid to the beggar who finds himself in misery and agony on life’s highway. But one day, we must ask the question of whether an edifice which produces beggars must not be restructured and refurbished.
Martin Luther King, Jr

“No society has fulfilled its democratic promise if people go hungry… If some go without food they have surely been deprived of all power. The existence of hunger belies the existence of democracy.”
Frances Moore Lappe


I am not responsible for any of the advertising that may appear on this blog.

Walmart and Amazon Workers Rights Petitions

It is no longer an unwritten law of American capitalism that industry will attempt to maintain wages at a level that allows a single wage to support a family.
Christopher Lasch

No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Wal-Mart: Stop Union-Busting and Treat Your Employees With Respect!

Please sign the following petitions to Walmart and Amazon


Even after working at Wal-Mart for three years, Jennifer McLaughlin earns just $16,800 each year. Jennifer is considered well-paid for a Wal-Mart employee, though she struggles to care for her one-year-old son.

But Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, raking in over $470 billion in annual sales. They have the money and the resources to treat their workers much, much better. Instead, the company is notorious for low pay, understaffing and poor benefits. Wal-Mart is currently fending off lawsuits in multiple states for violating labors laws, including equal pay and wage-and-hour laws.

Please take action for workers like Jennifer. Demand that Wal-Mart respect their employees and welcome a union to ensure workers’ rights are upheld.

Please read more and sign the petition

Walmart”s treatment of employees is a global problem. Below is an article written before black Friday which details the problems with Walmart and workers rights world-wide:

With close to 2.2 million employees worldwide, Walmart has built a reputation for low wages, poor working conditions and inadequate health care as well as strong anti-union policies. The poorest 10% of people in the UK would take on average 11 million years to earn the wealth of its ruling Walton family, who also control Asda.

So whether it’s paying poverty wages, or destroying Mexico’s cultural heritage, it’s time we stood up to this corporate giant.

The demands are simple:

Respect Workers who assert their freedom of association in an attempt to resolve issues or improve working conditions frequently face retribution from the company. Workers are harassed and intimidated by management when they try to voice concerns. So workers are asking for respect, safety and job security when we speak out.

Living Wages: Extremely low wages along with inconsistent work scheduling makes it difficult for workers in many countries to support their families. In fact due to the low wages of workplaces Governments in effect are subsidising the company by providing entitlements.

Employment Security: The imposition of part-time work, casual employment contracts or – in the case of Walmart’s 1.4 million U.S. workers – no contracts at all, means that we have no employment security. Workers are asking that full-time, permanent work be the rule rather than the exception.

Employers such as Walmart and Amazon should pay their workers a living wage. Governments should not be making up for the short fall which is the case both in the USA and here in the UK. If you’re in work on low pay here in the UK you can apply for Working Tax Credit to top-up your earnings. All well and good but this is inadequate and is in reality a benefit given to corporations and big business which are more than able to pay their workers a decent wage for a reasonable days work, not the slave driven over worked and underpaid situation we have today in the modern workplace.


Tell Amazon: Stop abusing your workers and the environment this holiday season!

Please sign the following petition

I was an Amazon employee, but now I’m sitting outside its Seattle headquarters to protest the cruel way it abuses its workers and the environment. Employees talk to me as they head into work, and their stories are downright disturbing. That’s why I started a hunger strike Nov. 25 and will go as long as it takes — we need to spread the word about this corporate giant’s dark side.

Will you stand with my protest and sign my petition today? Let CEO Jeff Bezos know that he needs to stop abusing his workers or you’ll consider taking your business elsewhere this holiday season!

Workers’ voices are ignored by Amazon, which is why you need to speak for them. Please help send Amazon a clear message — sign my Care2 petition today!

Read More and please sign the petition:

Read the the article below which well describes the hell of working for Amazon

Being homeless is better than working for Amazon’

Nichole Gracely has a master’s degree and was one of Amazon’s best order pickers. Now, after protesting the company, she’s homeless

I am homeless. My worst days now are better than my best days working at Amazon.

According to Amazon’s metrics, I was one of their most productive order pickers – I was a machine, and my pace would accelerate throughout the course of a shift. What they didn’t know was that I stayed fast because if I slowed down for even a minute, I’d collapse from boredom and exhaustion.

During peak season, I trained incoming temps regularly. When that was over, I’d be an ordinary order picker once again, toiling in some remote corner of the warehouse, alone for 10 hours, with my every move being monitored by management on a computer screen.

Read more:

Amazon embargo gains momentum as pledge sees £2.6m of sales diverted elsewhere in living wage protest

Pledge to go Amazon Free

Profoundly Sick Company

Time for both Walmart and Amazon to treat their workers fairly and respect their right to a safe environment and a living wage. Both make millions and in the case of Walmart billions each year in profit, time to pay their workers properly and respect the fact that their lives are impotent, their time precious. Everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and good working conditions. Time for Amazon and Walmart to respect that right.

Having said all that of course it is also time governments stepped in and make laws to protect workers’ rights. Governments should work in the interests of the people who elected them, for the majority of working people not the greedy grabbing exploitative minority. Time to demand better. It’s not always easy to boycott stores such as Walmart and Amazon and in general both here in the UK and the USA and no doubt elsewhere there are few businesses that respect the right to even a basic minimum wage let alone a living wage and the opportunity for full-time work not the vagaries of zero contracts. Frankly I think its time for a basic income so people are no longer at the mercy of greedy exploitative businesses, but that is probably another issue for another time.


Poor People in Twenty First Century UK Can’t Afford to Heat Their Food

“We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to food banks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse”

‘As a nation we need to accept that something is wrong and that we need to act now to stop UK hunger getting worse.’
Trussell Trust executive chairman Chris Mould :

Increasing numbers of  people are having to resort to food banks as more families than ever before are suffering from poverty. The Trussell Trust alone has reported that more than 350,000 people between April and September of this year  were  given a three-day food package –  this is three times as many as during the same period last year. Even more shocking, the Trussell Trust has said that some people are so poor that they have returned food that requires cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it!
Read more:

It is an outrage that In modern-day UK 13 million people live below the poverty line. As unbelievable as this may seem in twenty-first century UK there are people so poor they cannot afford the electricity to heat up donated food. yes I have repeated that fact again as it is just so unthinkable you cannot quite get your head round it can you!

The reasons for this are:

Welfare Reforms:
The coalition government’s vicious welfare reforms, or more precisely cuts in benefits, have plunged many people into poverty. These drastic and unfair cuts range from reduction in amount received to a complete cessation of benefits when seriously sick and severely disabled people are told they are fit for work and have their benefits stopped. These cuts include the bedroom tax which since it’s introduction has plunged many deeper into poverty:

Peter Browne, 42, an unemployed former chef, is wondering how he will get by when £11 of his £71-a-week jobseekers allowance is swallowed up this month by the bedroom tax. He wants to move to a one-bed flat but there are none available. Until there are “it pretty much means heating or eating.”

Browne spends about £5 a week on gas now but he expects that to rise to £12 in the winter. He aims to restrict his food budget to £2 a week. Packets of noodles for 12p, and tins of spaghetti for 19p are on his shopping list. Time your visit right, he reckons, and you can get a nearly-out-of-date loaf of bread from Asda for 6p.

Read More;

Heat or eat? Or take out a loan, do both, and hope for the best?

Here is a report on the accumulative affects of benefit cuts.

The Centre for Welfare Reform, on behalf of the Campaign for a Fair
Society, has done its own analysis:

A Fair Society? – How the cuts target disabled people.
Using the government’s own figures, it is clear that by 2015, in England alone, local government and housing will be cut by £16.2 billion. This is a cut in real terms of 41.9%. Social care for children and adults makes up 60% of all spending over which local authorities have any control. Data collected over the past two years indicates that social care has already been cut by nearly £4 billion, and will be cut by £8 billion by 2015, a cut of about 33%.
Benefits for disabled people and the poorest will also have been cut by £18 billion, a cut of about 20%.

Read the full report

Low wages:
Basic minimum wage for people 21 and over is only £6.31, 18 to 20 £5.03, under 18 £3.72 and an apprentice gets just £2.68. Shocking right? Many people get less. The fact that someone can be working for £ 2.80 an hour in modern-day Britain is scandalous! Not that £6.31 is a lot either if you are supporting a family – or indeed for a single person who has the same rent/ mortgage, heating and so on as a family. Time to pay a living wage to everyone who works and a living benefit for those unfortunate enough not to be able to work as a result of unemployment or illness and disability. Regardless of the job we do, all people have the same needs whether it is the fat cat executive or the road sweeper,  both need to earn enough to provide shelter, food, warmth, clothing and the means to have a fulfilling life! People want more from life than enslavement to greedy corporations working away their precious lives to make another rich while they themselves struggle to afford even the basics in life.

Over 250 million people are unemployed and many of those who are, are on zero hour contracts, temporary jobs and part-time work.

Price Rises:
Huge rises in the cost of food and other commodities have plunged people into poverty – what has not risen in price? Rents for one thing as greedy landlords have hiked rents taking advantage of an already difficult situation. Private rents now have reached a record high with Rents across England and Wales reaching a record of £757 a month on average in September after jumping by 1.8% month-on-month,

Massive Increases in the cost of energy – New increases for all of us as SSE and British Gas hike their prices by extortionate levels of 8,2 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively. The rest of course will follow helping to confirm the belief  that they operate as a cartel.

Note the following in the Daily Mirror article :”The group is also introducing a new fixed standard charge of 26p a day for all customers – which will impact another 6.1 million 

For most everyone except the very rich the cost of living has risen far more than the incomes of the vast majority of the UK population with benefit claimants, which includes state pensions, and the low paid and unemployed being worst effected of course.

I know that there are many desperately poor people here in the UK as a result of welfare reforms and low wages and indeed my family and I struggle to make ends meet and things are getting worse including not being able to adequately heat our home and when it is cold we spend most of the day feeling chilled as we dare not set the thermostat to more than 60 degrees. The cost of heating our home is like having to pay another mortgage, right now I sit here in an unheated room, but to not be able to afford to heat your food beggars belief.

I think many people, even those of us who campaign against the onslaught of austerity that has destroyed people lives, still do not fully understand the severity of poverty that exists here in the UK. After all people who are so desperately poor that they cannot heat their food may not have Internet access and therefore suffer in silence not knowing what to do or where to turn. They have no voice or at least their problems are less likely to be generally known.

The fact that in the sixth richest country in the world people struggle to afford the basics of life such as heating for their homes, food for their families and affordable shelter,  is immoral to the extreme. With 80 billionaires and 509,000 millionaires – a rise of 98,000 since last year and more than any other European county – it is a disgrace. It is immoral when bankers get big bonuses while people go cold and hungry. It is immoral that MPs, many of whom are millionaires including Cameron and Miliband, get huge pay rises while working people live on a pittance of low wages and or inadequate benefits and have to send their children to school hungry.

Do hungry children exist? Teachers say so. Parents say so, though they may go without to give kids toast for tea.

Read More:

With 4000 food banks already in place the Trussell Trust plan to provide one in each town and city.

Consider the following  :
A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity
Ralph Nader

While this is very commendable and a godsend for struggling hungry people the need for such charities as food banks should have no place in any socially progressive society in a rich country such as the UK .

The government’s welfare reforms need to be overturned and a more fair system put in its place. Sick and disabled people have and are continuing to suffer poverty and deprivation and mental anguish as a consequence of draconian reforms that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, some of whom  died shortly after undergoing the Atos Work Capability Assessment, and many suicides.

The unemployed need to receive sufficient benefits in order to pay rent/ mortgage, food, heating and clothing which are the very basic essentials surely

The scandal of working people needing food banks is a disgrace beyond words but it seems that increasingly more and more people who work are paid such low wages that they cannot afford the very basics of life. To get a situation where people dare not turn on the electricity to cook their food is shocking in the extreme. Time for a raise in the basic minimum wage to at least the so-called livable wage of £7.45 – for London £8.55 –  an improvement of course, but in my opinion not enough

Please click the following links and read the stories of people who through no fault of their own have to resort to food banks including an Afghan veteran who, after suffering post traumatic stress disorder following his time serving in Afghanistan, struggled to find a job and was evicted. As a vegan and pacifist of course I am opposed to armed conflict nonetheless I consider it an outrage when this country turns its back on those who risk their lives for what they consider is right. Shame on the UK for not looking after members of the armed forces who are now as a consequence of their service sick and or disabled.

Also see the stories of  Andrew, Tereza and Neil  told in this Guardian article:

Food bank Britain: ‘I didn’t ask to be ill’

Note Burton-Fullick needs new glasses, but can’t afford them and he and his partner’s immersion heater broke 18 months ago but they don’t have the money to get it fixed. Often it is more than not affording food and often such essentials as replacement glasses and the repairs of such as an immersion heater are not considered. To do without either is a considerable detriment particulary for a sick and disabled person.

Action you can take

Please sign the WOW Petition which calls for : A Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.

The Trussell Trust has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to look into the ‘scandalous’ problem of food poverty. Perhaps you could do the same. Follow the lead of the Trussell Trust and write to David Cameron and express your outrage that in rich UK people do not have enough to eat or can afford to use  their electricity to cook their food let lone heat their homes. Yes I know he is unlikely to read it personally, but someone will read it and we need to make our feelings known on the matter. The more people who write the better.

Mr David Cameron, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Or contact you constituency MP.

Please write even if he or she is Labour,  don’t rely on the Labour party to change much of any of the disastrous polices of the last two years, particularly welfare reforms.


Video: Angry Dennis Skinner takes David Cameron to task over ATOS after victim waiting for appeal dies

Details of benefit changes