40 years of equal pay!?!

4th November 2010 by

Last month I went to see Made in Dagenham. I love a bit of strike action and generally anything in life or art where people rally round together. It’s a nice feel good film, full of class cliches and not particularly historically accurate, but still a nice thing to do on an autumnal evening. I should also point out that I hardly ever watch films, go to the cinema a few times a year and don’t watch telly- so I’m pretty easy to please with moving pictures on a big screen, my senses are awed even if my brain isn’t.

Then, just before the credits rolled came the text:

“In 1970 the Equal Pay Act was passed”

and a voice in my head shouted ‘AND 40 YEARS LATER THERE’S STILL A MASSIVE PAY GAP!’ Were we really meant to fall for this wholly unsatisfactory ‘happy ending’? To be precise- 40 years after the Equal Pay Act, women working full-time in the UK are still paid on average 16.4% less per hour than men. Obviously my warm-fuzzy-look-what-we-can-do-if-we-all-get-together feeling was gone, vanished faster than a factory full of machinists on strike.

Tuesday 2nd November was Equal Pay Day. And no, unfortunately that doesn’t mean that everyone gets equal pay regardless of gender, race and religion. The full-time pay gap between women and men is equivalent to men being paid all the year round while women work for free after 2 November.

The Fawcett Society are petitioning the coalition to sort out the pay gap. Which is much more productive than sitting around getting all Grrrr. But still, GRRRRRRR!

As the nights draw in

2nd November 2010 by

It’s officially the end of British summer time. Anyone who wants to moan about British summers can go live in Spain with all the other annoying, sunburnt Brits abroad. But whatever you made of it, it’s long over.  Last week the nights were all drawn out into the mornings, but since the clocks went back the nights are really drawing in. November typically has only 10 hours of daylight, from 7am to 4pm, this means most of my cycling will be in the dark for the next few months.

I recently became a convert to the hi-vis vest, it’s part of a long slow decline from puberty to anorak-hood. But the hi-vis never runs out of batteries, like my bike lights. It doesn’t crack if you drop it on the floor, like my helmet. As car headlights get closer, the hi-vis only get brighter. I am fully aware of the new levels of geekery that I have attained, but the hi-vis is my favourite new safety device.

So the only sensible thing to do is to get yourself seen…

Josie Long & Otesha meet Climate Camp

2nd September 2010 by

Ta da!! Here is our first foray into film with our patron, comedian Josie Long! Over the next few months, we will be showcasing some of the coolest and best aspects of the social and environmental justice movement here in the UK and relating it back to our daily lives.

This month, we went to Climate Camp in Edinburgh. A thousand activists camping outside RBS headquarters and protesting against their investment in fossil fuels and destructive projects like the tar sands may not seem relevant to a lot of us, but when you think that the bank is 84% owned by the UK taxpayer, it makes you wonder where your money is going.

So this month, we’re not necessarily asking you to siege your local bank branch (although, that of course, is your individual choice). We are asking you to put your money where your ethics are, pester your parents about their pension and above all, be honourable. That’s the title of Josie’s current show (nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award!), which is about trying to act in line with your beliefs, saying goodbye to complacency and just being aware that there are people out there fighting for a cleaner, greener, fairer world. Sounds pretty good to us.

You’ll have to excuse some of the poor sound and light quality in the video – it was me, Josie, a flip cam and a bike light running around in the dark! The next one will be more fancy.

That's so crazy it just might work!

13th August 2010 by

It’s sad but true that in a month, I’ll be leaving my current role at Otesha to go back to school and do a masters at Sussex Uni in Climate Change & Policy. I’m a mix of emotions – sad to be leaving, excited to move to a new city but also thinking a lot about what it means to be moving away from all the invigorating, life-affirming, life-changing grassroots work that I’ve been privileged to be involved in these past couple of years, and moving towards talk of economics, markets, policy and acronyms.

I’ve had to justify my position to a lot of people, who think the system is broken and therefore I shouldn’t go there, that change can only happen on the ground. On the flipside, others have breathed a sigh of relief – “thank god” I can see them thinking “she’s going to get off her bike and start making real change where it matters”!

But surely, SURELY, it can’t be that cut and dried. The environmental justice movement is a spectrum, and there is a need for us all, and therefore maybe we need to do it all. I want to be able to engage at that level, and talk to big and important people, and tell them with confidence why they are clearly wrong not to put global equality, safety and health at the top of their priority list. But at the same time, I’ll never stop doing cool things on the ground, challenging the system we’re working in, empowering others and riding my bike!

I stumbled across this Sesame Street video on another blog, and it reminded me how intelligent that show was (no reason to go to school when you have Jim Henson’s moral code) and got me thinking about all this movement stuff. It’s a brilliant illustration of how we might all march to a different beat, but how powerful and creative we can be when we work together - “suppose you do your kind of drumming and I do my kind of drumming at the SAME TIME”?

I imagine here that Bert is working for DECC (he’s a bit like that isn’t he), slow and steady. And Ernie is a rebel Climate Camper. We need both and we need them at the same time. This is urgent stuff and we can’t leave any doors unopened. But whatever you do, as Bert says, you gotta have soul.

TV turnoff week's here, but is digital detox even possible?

19th April 2010 by

This week is International TV turn off week, where millions of people around the world switch off their sets and find something else to do for a week. First created by Adbusters way back in 1994, it’s grown massively in the past 15 years – over 20 million people took part in 2008.

Of course, the times they are a’changing, and the week has been renamed Digital Detox Week and the new challenge is to go without all sorts of screens. Of course turning off the TV is still on the agenda, but Digital Detox also includes turning off our laptops, x-boxes, iPhones, Blackberries, digital picture frames and everything else we’ve got hanging around the house. Read the rest of this entry »

When good songs go bad

15th March 2010 by

Okay tck tck tck, it’s time for a talk. I know you meant well. I know you wanted to be hip and down with the youth while addressing a very important issue that doesn’t traditionally get so much mainstream media coverage. So you got together Lily Allen, Duran Duran, Fergie Ferg and 55 other artists (including kick-ass musician and fellow Canadian Hawksley Workman – mad props for that), put them together in a recording studio and made a remake of “Beds are Burning”. It had potential, it really did. But then, the result:

Read the rest of this entry »

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