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(en) SchNEWS 493, Friday 16th April 2005 WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! IT'S YER GET OUT OF JAIL FREE...

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 15 Apr 2005 07:06:13 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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TESCOPOLY ----- "Where does the money come from to pay Tesco Boss, Terry Leahy?
----------- From producers and consumers; the cheaper he can buy from
producers and the more he can get from consumers the more money he has for
his shareholders and of course for himself." John Turner, Lincolnshire Farmer
This week's announcement that Tesco made £65 profit every second
last year, was accompanied by bosses proudly telling reporters
that they were making customers shopping trips easy and less
expensive. £1 out of every £8 spent in the UK high street finds
its way into Tesco coffers, but what's wrong with success and low
prices? The company's going to create 25,000 jobs next year.
Declan Curry of the London Stock Exchange was surprised at how low
key the Tesco announcement was, "we should not be ashamed of
profit," he murmured, "without successful companies, we're all
much poorer. It would be a pity if Tesco thought it had to hide
its success." But it's what lies behind this 'success' that Tesco
is trying to hide: monopoly, monotony and greed; destroying
communities, the environment and working conditions in the
process. Oh and the food's crap too.

Tesco Boss Terry Leahy managed to flog £30bn of stuff in the UK
last year, but he's still not content. Lamenting over a mere 1/5
increase in profit, he told investors that "Tesco's share of the
total retail market is just 12% and there is a lot left to go
for". But that 12% is an average. According to a study by that
bastion of corporate support, the Sunday Times, Tesco has total
control of the food market in one in 14 post code areas. Luckily
for Tesco, competition laws classify convenience stores as a
separate sector to supermarkets. Monopolies used to be recognised
and prevented when a company controlled 25% of the market, but
with their Metro stores, Tesco controls over one third of the
country's grocery business. It might be election time, but don't
bother speaking to your prospective MP about curbing Tesco's
power. You'll find Tossco boss, Sir Terry, sitting on 4 government
task forces and sponsoring stands at party conferences. Despite
Tesco's monopoly ministers have just allowed it to buy 10 Safeway

On Tuesday, Tesco reported pre-tax profits of more than £2bn. Even
though each employee generates an average of £95,000 worth of
sales each year, no spare cash is left to pay workers during their
tea breaks. Whilst the eight men who run Tesco earned £26m between
them last year, Tesco have fought tooth and nail against the
minimum wage. A 16 year old worker on such a rate would have to
work for over 90 years to earn Sir Terry's £3m annual salary.

Sweatshop Neo-Labour

Tesco is a lot more subtle than union busting Wal-Mart. The Usdaw
Trade Union have signed a 'partnership agreement' and sided with
Tesco bosses who recently slashed sick pay for employees. Udsaw
reckons if you worked for any other retailer you would "jump at
the chance to have the type of partnership agreement Usdaw has
with Tesco". Andre Van Der Merwe probably disagrees. He got the
boot for 'skivin' off', even though it was his boss who sent him
home because he had a swollen eye. Andre told an employment
tribunal that he was so stressed and exhausted from his
night-shift job in the store that he lost three stone in weight
and had to spend weekends sleeping. The tribunal found against
Tesco, the company that docks workers 15 minutes wages for being
three minutes late for work.

Obviously a shop that sells jeans for less than a fiver uses
sweatshop labour, but workers picking fruit are getting a raw deal
too. This week, a report by ActionAid states that pear picking
Tesco workers in South Africa complained of wages so low that they
could not afford school uniforms for their kids. Researchers
discovered that pesticides were being sprayed whilst women worked
in the orchards without protective clothing and "workers picked
pears while trees were still 'wet' from pesticides." Policy
researcher Dominic Eagleton commented that "the growth of
supermarkets in developing countries is really undermining the
fight against poverty."

In its push to maximise profit, Tesco is busy destroying local
communities here in the UK too. In their 'Ghost Town Britain'
report, the New Economics Foundation revealed that between 1995
and 2000 we lost about a fifth of our local shops and services
including post-offices, banks, butchers and grocers. Between 1997
and 2002, around 50 specialist stores closed every week. In
October 2002, Tesco bought 870 One Stop, Day & Night or Dillons
shops across the UK, almost 1/2 of which contained a sub post
office. Tossco is now busily converting these shops into Tesco
Express, closing 100 post offices, often in the smallest
communities, in the process. The company's environmental policy
admits that the store does "not claim to have all the solutions",
but some solutions are pretty obvious. Like not promoting car
travel to out of town superstores and not lobbying Ken Livingstone
to reduce the congestion charge.

The food might be cheap, but think twice before tuckin' in. Tesco
special offers on food usually apply to processed, over-packaged
fat laden grub, high in all the unhealthy crap. This is where the
most profit is, but the food still costs less if you use raw
ingredients. If the spoonful of organo-phosphates, the glass of GM
milk or chicken that's doubled in fat content in 50 years doesn't
put you off, then what about the food monoculture being encouraged
by the store? Thirty years ago the 75 strong Thames Valley
Vegetable Growers Association supplied every kind of produce. Now
only 5 supply what the supermarkets believe looks good on the
shelves. One Covent Garden trader told Joanna Blythman, author of
"Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets", that if he
tried to sell supermarket-style produce to chefs he would be
laughed out of their kitchens.

Tesco sell food and electrical goods, rent DVDs, will give you a
credit card, insure your home, provide an internet service and
will even write your will. Tesco is also the world's largest
online grocer and has 2,350 stores and 100 hypermarkets. Company
bosses are planning to open up to 20 new Tesco Extras a year.

Want to stop the corporate control of our food? Boycotting Tesco
supports local shops and communities. Why not spread the word and
drop a few SchNEWS round to your local branch? You can always call
Tesco on 0845 7225533 if you'd like to tell 'em where to stick
their £2bn mega-profits.

* www.supermarket-sweep-up.com

* To find out whats wrong with supermarkets and more dirt on Tesco

*Recommended reading Joanna Blythman "Shopped: The Shocking Power
of British Supermarkets" (Perennial books)


Crap Arrest of the Week

For being Islamic...

A 16 year old Guinean girl in NYC was plucked from school and is
being held in a detention centre in Pennsylvania, apparently as a
high risk terrorist threat. It seems that no-one who actually
knows her has any idea why. "I just can't fathom this," said her
teacher, Kimberly Lane, "she's just a regular teenager. Two weeks
ago her biggest worry was whether she'd done her homework or
studied for a science test."

This story follows the recent incarceration of another 16 year old
from New York, a Bangladeshi girl now held at the same detention
centre. According to the FBI, the teenagers are "an imminent
threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that
they plan to be suicide bombers." No evidence was cited, and
federal officials will not comment on the case. We'll let Ms Lane
have the final word: "I remember telling her the government
doesn't go after 16-year-old girls. And in the last few days, I'm
wrestling with the fact that, yes, it does."



As part of the ongoing project to turn the whole country into
identikit retail parks, malls and yuppie apartments, and make sure
that never again is Britain referred to as "a nation of
shopkeepers", the latest local area still retaining some character
under threat is the century-old Queens Market, Upton Park - one of
the few surviving East End markets in London. The local mayor in
collusion with property developers St Modwens wishes to see it
destroyed and replaced by an Asda superstore and a block of luxury

Whilst we are sure a few individuals (and shareholders) will do
very nicely out of the deal, as Corporate Watch remind us, "When
we look more closely at the hidden costs of supermarkets, the
choice, convenience and value they supposedly offer becomes
questionable. By putting small independent retailers out of
business, they are hardly providing choice. By forcing consumers
to use their cars for their weekly shop, they are hardly
convenient, and when we calculate the cost to the taxpayer, small
farmers, our health and the environment of 'cheap food', it
doesn't seem such good value." That's Asda price.

To support the campaign to save the market email



One of the last acts of Neo Labour before announcing the General
Election has been to clampdown even more on protests. Hidden in
the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill is clauses relating to
'behaviour in the vicinity of Parliament' primarily aimed at
removing Brian Haw, the Parliament Square peace protestor, who has
spent nearly 4 years in a continuous anti-war protest vigil
opposite the Houses of Parliament. Other measures have also been
included that will no doubt have wide-ranging implications on
protest elsewhere.

Brian won a landmark High Court case to carry on his protest in
October 2002. So Neo Labour decided they needed a new law to deal
with him: placing severe restrictions on protest in a very wide
area around Parliament, which will seriously curtail the rights of
everyone to protest in Central London, whatever the issue.

Demonstrators will now have to give 6 days notice (or 24 hours if
not 'reasonably practical' to give 6 days) to the Metropolitan
Commissioner, who will say whether a protest may go ahead and, if
so, under what restrictions. These restrictions include how many
people may turn up and how many placards they may carry.
Restrictions may be placed if the protest is seen as likely to
cause a 'disruption to the community'. As most protest causes some
disruption by its very nature, this law will have wide-ranging
implications. A single police officer may be able to change any of
the restrictions at the time of the protest. The restrictions will
apply to any protest within 1km of Parliament Square, covering all
government buildings and much else besides. The penalties for
breaching the restrictions are severe - up to a year in prison and
substantial fines.

The Human Rights organisation Liberty say that they cannot see how
these measures "can be compatible with Article 11 of the Human
Rights Act (the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and
association)." As Baroness Shirley Williams said it was "bizarre
and ironic" that such rights to protest are "praised in the
Lebanon, in the Ukraine, in Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere" but "we are
now beginning to make (them) almost impossible in our own

* People are needed to join a rota to defend any threatened
eviction of Brian Haw - to volunteer call 07916 151054 or see



Plans to build a six lane motorway across the Thames were
disrupted last week as the pre-inquiry meeting ended in uproar
when the inspectors walked out. Objectors had asked for the
inquiry into the Thames Gateway Bridge to be postponed as they had
not been given enough time to make the case against the fume
producing, racket making motorway that will go through residential
areas in south east London.

When the inspector, Robert Barker, an (oh-so-impartial)
ex-engineer for one of the engineering firms who are bidding for
the road contract, announced that the public inquiry would not be
postponed, there were cries of protest from angry local residents
and pressure groups. One protestor grabbed the microphone and
shouted "This whole thing is a scandal. This bridge is being
railroaded through. You are not listening to people" and was then
chased around the table. The inspectors walked out of the meeting,
leaving it in chaos. The Head Inspector has now resigned.

The Thames Gateway bridge is part of New Labour's massive and
controversial road building scheme, set rolling by last year's
"Future of Transport" White Paper (the 10 year plan for
transport). It is being sold as a 'local bridge', but will in fact
be a massive polluting motorway whose tolls will keep local
people, in a mainly deprived area, from crossing whilst pumping
clouds of smog into their environment and blasting the mainly
residential area with noise. Ken Livingstone originally said that
you could "bury me in a block of concrete" before he let this road
be built, but now his Transport for London supports it. As for the
noise, TfL say people will "get used to it" - i.e. stop
complaining and shut up. The new road will generate approx 20
million vehicles a year that could end up rat-running through the
local area, and cause more traffic accidents. The surrounding area
of Bexley already has the highest childhood asthma rates of any
London borough. The Thames Gateway Bridge is the same motorway as
the Oxleas Wood scheme which was famously defeated in 1993 - hot
on the heels of the Twyford Down direct action campaign and the
massive anti roads protest movement of the nineties.

Action Group Against the Bridge www.pvr.co.uk/tgb

Road Block 01803 847649 www.roadblock.org.uk



Two elderly women, killed during a protest against factory
pollution, sparked a riot by thousands of villagers in eastern
China at the weekend. The two were run over by police in
Huankantou village, Zhejiang province who were trying to disperse
200 elderly women who had kept up a two-week 24 hour vigil and
roadblock outside a chemical factory that is blamed for ruined
crops and deformities in new-born babies.

Angry villagers then smashed their way into a school where police
and officials were holed up. "They were attacked with rocks,
cudgels and choppers by thousands of people and more than 30 were
hurt and taken to hospital, five in serious condition," a city
statement said. 3,000 riot police officers then turned up and 50
of their buses were attacked before the police attacked them with
teargas, clubs and shields.

As this is China there was a news blackout and journalists trying
to enter the area were detained by the police - but violent
demonstrations are becoming increasingly frequent as economic
growth has caused resentment at corruption, environmental
destruction and the growing gap between rich and poor. China will
no doubt soon be knocking on the door of the G8.


SchNEWS in Brief

* Animal Experiments - Science or Fiction? 'Is animal
experimentation essential for medical progress or a serious hazard
to human health?' Debate next Thursday (21) Oxford Town Hall 7pm

* There's a G8 Climate Counter Summit follow up meeting on Monday
(18) for anyone interested in networking, campaigning and planning
for the action on climate change around the G8. It's at Rampart
Social Centre, 15 Rampart Street, London E1 7pm

* The Trapese roadshow will also be at Rampart on the 23rd
chatting about climate change, oil-war, the G8 and civil
disobedience plus interactive workshops, a pub quiz and short
films, followed by a social. 6pm onwards Rampart Centre

* London Indymedia have organised a five-day film festival on the
Middle East featuring films from Iraq, Palestine/Israel,
Afghanistan, Lebanon and more. 26-30th at Rampart

* Next Thursday (21) Cherrybomb meets Raise the Roof benefit
happening at the Toucan Club, St Mary's St, Cardiff. 7pm-3am £3

* Want to learn some medical skills for protest situations? Then
get along to action medic training taking place across the country
in May and June (and get in touch if you can organise something in
the South West) www.actionmedics.org.uk

* It's the London Critical Mass monthly bike ride 11th birthday
party happening on the 29th April. Meet on the southbank at
Waterloo 6pm www.cmlondon.enrager.net

* The court case to get an injunction against SmashEDO (SchNEWS
492) has been adjourned for 1 week with no restrictions on
protest. There is a noise demo outside the factory on Weds (20) at
4pm at EDO, Home Farm Rd, off Lewes Rd, Brighton.


Inside SchNEWS

Twenty-two year old Animal/Earth Liberation prisoner Chris
McIntosh is currently awaiting trial in Seattle, accused of an
arson which caused $5,000 damage to a McDonald's. He's been
charged with Animal Enterprise Terrorism and facing up to 30 years
in prison.

Chris is in desperate need of support! Send letters to Christopher
McIntosh 30512-013, FDC SeaTac, Federal Detention Center, PO BOX
13900, Seattle, WA 98198 (all mail must include a full return
address on the front of the envelope) www.supportchris.org


..and finally...

For years the government have been screwing up the implementation
of computer systems and have been fleeced by IT companies who
realise that once they "win" (short for "wine, dine and donate
enough to get given") the contract, it is practically impossible
for the government to bail out, regardless of minor things like
poor performance, security flaws and huge escalation of costs. Why
bother with the complex task of holding these companies
accountable when it's far easier for the good old taxpayers to
pick up the bill? There seems to be no incentive to actually
deliver a decent value for money product that works - firms like
EDS and Capita have repeatedly been awarded new contracts despite
failing on their previous ones. Ah, the joy of business!

Despite the recent messes at, for example, the Child Support
Agency, the Passport Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions,
Air Traffic Control and with the National Insurance computers,
it's not all bad news; a parliamentary committee has found that
the project to link up all the UK intelligence agencies into one
glorious big brother style system is not going well. The system,
called Scope (..for abuse? SchNEWS wonders) is running three years
late, doesn't work properly and is 50% over budget, although just
how many millions of our pounds this is has been kept secret for,
er, security reasons. So it looks as though we've got until at
least 2007 before the newest weapons against democratic protests
and political subversion, oh no sorry, I mean "terrorism", are in
place - make the most of it!



SchNEWS warns all readers off their trolley it's time to checkout.



What's On? Check out out Party and Protest guide at
www.schnews.org.uk/pap/guide.htm - it's updated every week, has
sections on regular events, local events, protest camps and



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