Our Hopes for 2015
Ethical Consumer staff on the year ahead
The Ethical Consumer team tell us what they want to see happen in 2015.
In 2015 I would like to see the living wage being adopted by all major companies. In particular I would like to see supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsburys join the Living Wage campaign.
In addition to this I would like to see the next government strengthen workers' rights in the UK by banning the use of zero hour contracts and improving the rights of temporary agency workers.
In 2015, I hope that the computer industry can follow the example set this year in the mobile phone industry and develop a truly ethical brand. The Fairphone smartphone company was specifically set up to try and address some of the issues that plague the electronics industry - namely conflict minerals, workers' rights in supply chains and environmental sustainability.
Computer companies are largely still failing on these issues. Many don't monitor their environmental impact properly, most don't seem to have adequate supply chain policies in place. More of them are addressing conflict minerals from Congo but some companies still have not even made first base on this issue.
Next year I would like to see more independent local businesses getting the Fair Tax Mark. It is our local bookshops, cafes and record stores that lose out the most to the big tax-avoiding corporations and I want the Fair Tax Mark to help shoppers on the high street choose to buy from tax-payers not tax-players.
I would also like to see the government and local authorities formally adopting the principles behind the Fair Tax Mark into their procurement policies to ensure that public service contracts go to companies that contribute to our society rather leaching off it to enrich shareholders.
I have many hopes for the coming year, but in the spirit of brevity I'll stick to one and concentrate on Google as a representative of tax avoiders, advertising and data collection corporations everywhere. However unlikely, I hope that:
- Her Majesty's Government grow a backbone and begin to FULLY tax Google on UK profits
- Google executives cease to be afforded open-door access to senior figures in all major political parties (particularly the current coalition) helping to set policy in the fields such as business and education
- UK regulators begin taking the privacy and consent of UK citizens as seriously as, for example the Dutch and Spanish have
- Consumers protect themselves by switching away from Google services en masse
We have lots of campaigns on upwards trajectories right now. Save Our Bank in 2015 should float off as a new Union of Co-op. Bank Customers to keep a unique institution on an ethical track. If successful, a single company democratic consumer union is an innovation that could potentially serve as a model elsewhere.
We're also planning some new campaigning around the badger cull, unless someone comes to their senses and abandons the whole sorry episode!
And finally we're brewing up a couple of projects with universities in Manchester and Leeds which I am particularly excited about. Working with academics to unpick how people buy ethically in times of austerity looks like being important to understand for a few years to come at least.
Cheap clothing kills. This is the one message that I want shoppers to understand loud and clear in 2015.
Sure, picking up a t-shirt for a couple of quid is a great bargain, but guess who's really paying? You got it – the garment workers in the sweatshops of Bangladesh and beyond.
I'm getting more than a little fed-up with companies who respond with carefully crafted press statements saying that they're committed to paying a living wage. Well call me naïve – but why the blazers can't they pay their workers a decent wage right now?
The good news is these laggard companies do respond to public pressure - eventually, so we've just got to keep on giving them a hard time to ensure that they do the right thing.
I'd like to see 100,000 pledge to boycott Amazon on the Amazon Anonymous website.
Consumer action has a vital role to play in forcing companies to change and to show the government that we as citizens what them to meaningfully legislate to ensure that a fair amount of tax is collected from multinational companies.
I'd also like to see HMRC pursue tax avoiders more vigorously and the government to give them the resources they need to challenge their tax arrangements under existing laws. They also need to start paying ALL their staff a living wage even those on temporary contracts.
What are your hopes for 2015? Visit our forums to discuss your ideas.