Thursday, 28 January 2016

Labour - enforced euphemism.

I believe in the power of language, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  In recent years I have been shocked by the frequent use of euphemistic terminology used by governments and repeated by newspapers and television networks to soften the blow of the horrors of war.  Take the phrase, ‘collateral damage’, a term that cannot begin to explain the horror befalling innocent civilian victims who are bombed out of their homes by misplaced air-strikes. How about ‘friendly fire’ as a way of explaining to a young soldier’s family that he was hit by a stray missile launched by an allied aircraft? Horrors, dressed down in their significance by nice, tidy, little buzz words.  

So where am I going with this? Well let me explain, our theme this week is ‘Labour’.  Now I know that labour is work.  I also know that a powerful Labour movement was formed in this remarkable democracy to protect the lives and welfare of working people.  I know that their struggle for recognition, fair pay, better working conditions and health care helped to develop Trade Unions, the TUC and The Labour Party. I served as an elected representative for my own Trade Union, CPSA (Civil and Public Services Association) for 3 years and remained a member after it became PCS. I don’t want to talk about trade unionism or the Labour party.   

I want to talk about slavery. The introduction of the The Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 by the British Government was a turning point in the emancipation of people from all races within the British Empire. It set out to free workers from forced-labour and oppression in hundreds of countries, then under British control.  My research today has revealed a shocking truth.    

In 2012, the ILO (International Labour Organisation) published new estimates indicating that about 21 million men, women and children are in forced labour. The vast majority, 90 per cent, are exploited in the private economy. The 2012 figure is significantly higher than the ILO’s earlier estimate as a result of better data and an improved methodology. More reading here...
Significantly, the new estimate indicates that more than half of the people in forced labour are women and girls, primarily in commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work, while men and boys were primarily in forced economic exploitation in agriculture, construction, and mining.

So let’s call it by its proper name.  Slavery isn’t just a problem in the developing economies.  It is over here as well as over there.  It makes a fortune for those who exploit others and we buy into it every day when we buy food, products and clothing without knowing who made them, without concern for their working conditions and how much profit the greedy b*****ds who use them are making.  As we know, many multi-nationals don’t even pay corporation tax in the countries where their profits are made. By this action they deprive national economies of revenue and those countries own workforce of the welfare it deserves.  

We have the power to influence that.  We can ask questions.  Our government has signed up to help stop this exploitation, tax avoidance and the backdoor reintroduction of slavery.  For your information I have included a chart taken from the ILO report. Please remember that a decision to buy or use a product produced too cheaply is the root cause of modern day slavery.  There is no other word for it. Slavery is alive and still dragging down people all over the world. 'Forced labour' isn't confined to the private sector, even in our civilised EU, some governments still use it.  So lets take off the blinkers, ditch the euphemisms and shout.  Slavery out! 
 


 
I don’t have a poem in my folio yet to express how strongly I feel about this subject, so I will leave you with some words from the most inspired campaigner for Human Rights in the twentieth century, perhaps in the history of mankind.  His words resonate today as much as they did in segregated USA. 





…I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today. …  

Martin Luther King. 1963.
 
Thanks for reading. Adele
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