It always amazes me to see the difference ordinary people can make when we take action together. Even when the issues seem huge, by standing together with campaigners around the world we’ve managed to hold one of the biggest banks to account, pushed for immediate action when the crisis broke out in Gaza, and we’ve got over 33 councils on board with our Towns Against Tax Dodging campaign. Go people power! Have a look at what you’ve helped make happen this year.
Clean Up Barclays
Campaigners deliver petition signatures and messages to Barclays HQThe year kicked off with a bang in January as we continued the Clean Up Barclays campaign where we made the bank stop promoting the use of tax havens to its clients operating in Africa. Thousands of us wrote to Barclays boss Antony Jenkins and in February activists in Zambia and Denmark added their voices to the campaign. Campaigners from across the world covered Barclays’ Facebook and Twitter accounts with messages telling it to behave.
In March thousands of us contacted our MPs to ask them to raise the issue in Parliament and in April we took the Barclays AGM by storm, with a giant billboard funded by you, handwritten messages and a twitter action. Campaign volunteer Will attended the AGM and asked the bank to end their promotion of tax havens in front of thousands of people, securing a promise from Barclays boss Antony Jenkins to find common ground with us.
In May we waited for Barclays to act on its commitment. We kept up the pressure by delivering over 53,000 petition signatures to Barclays headquarters and in November we were delighted that Barclays agreed to our demand to stop promoting the use of tax havens in Africa! Whilst it wasn’t a total victory, it’s pretty amazing that pressure from ordinary people like us can influence the position of one of the world’s biggest banks.
Campaigners in Zambia march to the KCM headquatersIn June allegations emerged of tax dodging by KCM, a Zambian mining company owned by UK mining giant Vedanta. Campaigners in Zambia took to the streets demanding that the company comes clean and, in support, over 6,000 of us in the UK sent an email to Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal. Following our campaigning in Zambia and the UK, blogs and media attention, the Zambian government committing to a review of the mine, and we secured a meeting with the company.
Gaza and Israel
In July this year conflict again broke out in Gaza and Israel which cost thousands of people their lives and even more people their homes. In response, over 11,000 of us contacted the Foreign Secretary asking for him to push for an immediate and lasting solution to the violence. And thanks to the strength of public outcry, we saw UK politicians strengthening their response to the crisis. Thanks to the generosity of ActionAid supporters, we were also able to distribute vouchers for essential supplies like food, blankets and clothes to people affected in Gaza.
Towns Against Tax Dodging
In August and September you helped us take the campaign for tax justice to your local communities across the UK, to develop a groundswell of support ahead of next year’s general election. Over 10,000 of us have emailed our local Councillors to ask them to pass a motion in support of the Towns Against Tax Dodging campaign and over 33 councils are already on board! Local events were held across the country in October and November, hosted by our wonderful Local Organisers. We were overwhelmed with the level of interest and passion from local activists. In November and December you’ve been ensuring that the campaign hits the headlines by contacting local papers, securing newspaper coverage from Devon to Fife as well as getting almost 100 local businesses on-board.
Local Organisers supporting the Towns Against Tax Dodging campaign
Next year is an exciting year for international development and our campaigning. We’ll be launching a new campaign ahead of the general election to make sure that politicians get tough on tax dodgers. It’s a great opportunity to make our voices heard and demand that big companies operating in poor countries pay their fair share of tax. We’ll also be campaigning on women’s rights, climate change and more. But we’re going to need your help to make it happen. I can’t wait to see what more we’ll achieve together in 2015! But until then I hope you have a great break and a happy new year!
The Campaigns Team, ActionAid UK
P.S. Throughout the year we have been running hugely popular tax justice walking tours of Mayfair – you can book your ticket for January now