Campaign blog

What do 8 out of 10 shoppers want?

Lotty Reynolds's picture Lotty Reynolds Campaigner

We are at a crucial stage of the supermarket watchdog campaign, with the Government due to make a decision early in November.

Which is why on this rainy Tuesday morning, 6 ActionAid campaigners joined War on Want, Traidcraft, and Friends of the Earth outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).  

Dressed as farmers being squeezed by the supermarket businessmen, we aimed to show how suppliers in the UK and overseas are being squeezed by the unfair practises of our supermarkets. Workers make 38p an hour for Tesco - it's not enough.

Eight out of ten shoppers want a supermarket watchdog. The Competition Commission findings recommend the necessity for regulating the supermarkets and Waitrose, Aldi and M&S have all publicly said that they not opposed to the idea; Lord Mandelson must make a decision to bring it in.

We need legally binding rules in place to ensure that companies behave responsibly wherever they work to benefit poor communities and the environment.  And hey: the running costs of an Ombudsman would be the same as what supermarkets snaffle up in their tills in less than 6 minutes.There is still time to TAKE ACTION NOW

Events to change the world

Eva Watkinson's picture Eva Watkinson Campaigns Engagement Manager

If you’re looking for alternatives to the economic policies that got us in to this global mess, and mean one in six people in the world don’t have enough to eat, then look no further! There seem to be a multitude of events on at the moment to remind us that not only do alternatives exist, but that there are ways and means to make them happen.

The Put People First platform is laying on a packed counter conference on the 7th November to cheer us up after the less than inspirational G20 meeting in Pittsburg. Has anything really changed since the crisis? What links poverty in the UK to poverty around the world? What are the economic policies that would work for people and the planet? All this and more will be discussed and ways forward planned. If your keen to carry on the conversation, or prefer some evening entertainment, the New Internationalist magazine are holding a book launch the same evening for Put People First Economics and an all new No Nonsense Guide to Global Finance.

The Bigger Picture logoI’m also exceptionally excited about The Bigger Picture, on the 24th October, put on by our friends at the New Economics Foundation. A festival of talks, films, exhibitions, workshops and more, featuring everyone from Caroline Lucas to Susan George. With the climate clock ticking The Bigger Picture looks at positive ways forward for the global economy and links between the climate, social and economic crises.

As if that wasn’t enough those of you who are lucky enough still to be students can find us as the upcoming NUS conference, where we will be one amongst many esteemed organizations represented.

Happy eventing!


Have I got news for you

Chris Jordan's picture Chris Jordan Tax Justice Campaign Manager

Our friends at the New Internationalist have just published a couple of fantastic news books – both are essential reading if you really want to make sense of the financial crisis and the way out of the mess.

The No Nonsense Guide to Global Finance is just that! It’s an invaluable reference to often wilfully obscure world of international finance, which does a great job of putting all the elements of the meltdown into a digestible format. 

Inspired by the G20 protests in April, People First Economics brings together leading thinkers in the fight for global justice. Naomi Klein, George Monboit and Evo Morales all contribute chapters that buzz with positive ideas for rescuing both people and the planet from the crisis we’re in.  It’s a must read of anyone who wants all the latest ideas for ideas for action.  As a fully paid up member of The Outlandish Revenue Service, I particularly enjoyed John Christianson’s jaw-dropping account of his time in tax havens.      

You can buy both books for £14, or even better, win a set in this competion that we suspect might have taken just a bit of inspiration from everyone’s fave Friday night viewing!  

Monitoring my dustbin - the results are in!

Meredith Alexander's picture Meredith Alexander Head of Trade and Corporates

I’ve been tracking my food waste for a while now, and I’m not proud. The average UK household apparently throws away over £400 of food each month. Thankfully, I’m not in that league, but I should be doing better still.

So far, my aim has just been to track what I toss. Until I know that, I can’t start to improve. I’ve been writing it all down, and now it’s time for some changes.

The first thing I need to do is shop smarter. I’m mainly throwing away vegetables, so that’s where I’m starting. Mushrooms, lettuce and celery have all ended up in my bin and on my list. I’ve decided I need to buy about 10% less vegetables to make sure I don’t waste any.

The second area I need to look at is how I cook. I’m good at measuring portions; it isn’t rice or pasta that has been going to waste. But I need to change how I decide what to cook. Until now, the only question I ask myself at dinner time is what do I fancy? I need to balance that a bit more with checking to see if anything is on its last legs.

None of these changes are radical, but by being more careful I will reduce the amount of food I buy. The peppers and apples I leave on the shelf won’t find their way directly into the hands of a hungry person. The truth is, there is enough food in the world to feed everyone in it. There is food for hungry people, they just can’t afford to buy it.

But it is still worth watching my waste. By changing how I treat food, I’m making a statement about how food should be valued. It’s a personal statement, but one I’m sharing with friends and family. And by blogging about it, I’m hoping to get even more people thinking about the importance of food.

Together, we can convince politicians to pay more attention to food and hunger too. That is the first step in tackling the hunger crisis. World Food Day on October 16th is fast approaching. I’m going to celebrate by asking Gordon Brown to invest more in ending hunger. I hope you’ll join me. Check out our website closer to the date to find out how.

Adventures in America

ActionAid Blogs's picture ActionAid Blogs

There is only one office, based in Washington DC. It was opened in 2001. Initially the office focused on research and lobbying the World bank and IMF. ActionAid US has retained its excellence in these advocacy skills, though the emphasis is now on changing US government policy rather than those global institutions.

ActionAid US has also added several more strings to its bow over the years. The office now raises significant funds to help ActionAid offices in other countries in their fight against poverty. It is also now reaching out to the American public to build more support for human rights and international development.

It was fascinating to see how ActionAid’s approach to public mobilisation differs in the US. In many ways, they use the same tools there as in Britain. I even spotted a photo I used last month on the cover of their annual report. But other things are very different. In general, Americans are more comfortable hearing about human rights and particularly women’s rights. On the other hand, they like their reports and websites to have a much straighter style; funny images of world leaders dressed in outrageous costumes are a lot less popular there than here in the UK.



Who Pays, Lord Mandelson?

Jenny Ricks's picture Jenny Ricks Head of Campaigns

We all know that Lord Mandelson is an important man these days, and now he has a very important decision to take which is crucial to the success of our Who pays? campaign.

After a two year inquiry and a year of negotiations with supermarkets, the Competition Commission finally handed over the baton of trying to establish a new supermarket ombudsman to Lord Mandelson’s Department for Business last month.

After all our hard work and some amazing victories, we risk the proposal going off the rails if Mandelson doesn’t take a decisive decision to bring it in. He’ll be making an announcement about what happens next in early November. We need to show him that creating an ombudsman would be a popular move by sending him as many messages of support as possible. Thousands of you have already sent him a message, but the response from the Department of Business so far has been vague.


If you’ve already sent your e-mail or postcard in, fear not, there’s plenty more actions you can take here to help keep the pressure on.

There’ll be more campaigning action over the next couple of months with coalition partners, so keep your eyes peeled. Let us know here if you’ve written to your local paper, or got friends to take the action too.