issue 136

From Issue 136 May/June 2012


Boycott of Elsevier


Elsevier, the global publishing company, which produces important academic journals such as The Lancet, Cell, and about 2,000 other titles and numerous books has come under a boycott call from an eminent mathematician.

Timothy Gowers of the University of Cambridge has organized a boycott of Elsevier because, he says, its pricing and policies restrict access to work that should be much more easily available.

On going to press 8,438 researchers has signed up to the boycott, pledging not to publish, referee, or do editorial work for any Elsevier journal, on the 'Cost of Knowledge' website.

Boycotters say the company charges too much for its journals; it bundles subscriptions to lesser journals together with valuable ones, forcing libraries to spend money to buy things they don’t want in order to get a few things they do want.


Over the pond

In the US the company was also supporting a proposed federal law (called the Research Works Act) that would prevent agencies like the National Institutes of Health from making all articles written by its grant recipients freely available however it has since dropped its support.

Hal Abelson, a professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an open-publishing advocate, signed the pledge and wrote that “With the moves of these megapublishers, we [are] seeing the beginning of monopoly control of the scholarly record.”

Manindra Agrawal a Computer Science academic from IIT Kanpur said “I was an editor of Information and Computation and on the Elsevier India Advisory Board. I have quit from both in protest against their practices as listed here.”

There is now growing calls for an open on-line academic database of research.

For more information visit




Japanese Victory for Ahava boycott campaign


In January DaitoCrea, the Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories agent in Japan, announced that they will no longer be distributing Ahava products.

Activists claim that this decision is the direct result of a concerted campaign by the Palestine Forum Japan starting in 2010 to educate DaitoCrea and Japanese consumers about Ahava’s illegal practices.

Activists wrote letters, organized a social media campaign, and eventually had a sit-down meeting with DaitoCrea. Once the Japanese agent was made aware of the legal and ethical issues involved with Ahava’s products, they began to take steps to sever ties with the company.

CODEPINK, the US women’s anti-war movement, has been spear-heading the ‘Stolen Beauty’ boycott campaign targeting Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories. The campaign was launched after it was discovered that the company's products come from Palestinian natural resources in the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem.

You can find out more about Ahava and the on going boycott at



Students vote to boycott beer


In February  the University of Edinburgh Students Union became the first union in the UK to ban all SABMiller beers, including Grolsch and Peroni, from union outlets.

Last year research from ActionAid showed how SABMiller avoids millions in tax by shifting profits out of Africa and into tax havens like Switzerland, depriving the world’s poorest countries of funds that could be used to invest in vital public services. According to Action Aid an estimated 250,000 additional African children could get an education if SABMiller stopped dodging its tax in poor countries.

A statement from students leading the fight said “We’re pretty excited! A ban from a union like Edinburgh will really make SABMiller sit up and listen.”



Boycott workfare


A growing number of companies have been persuaded to boycott the governments hated workfare scheme. Campaigners have accused businesses of profiting from slave labour, with those on unemployment benefits forced to work for free under threat of having their benefits cut.

After months of campaigning the following companies and organisations say they will no longer take part in workfare:

TK Maxx




Marie Curie

99p stores





Burger King – although they have only mentioned one of the five workfare schemes




The following have suspended their involvement pending internal investigations





However despite claims to the contrary Poundland and Tesco remain involved.

Many others are still participating in the scheme. See the Boycott Workfare website for more details and how you can get involved.







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