2022: Stories from the struggle
Holding McDonalds to account
In June, McDonald’s received a record-breaking €1.25 billion fine from the French government for tax avoidance. McDonald’s Luxembourg tax avoidance scheme was exposed in our 2015 report: ‘Unhappy Meal’, which was cited as evidence in the case. Our European allies were central to this win for ordinary citizens robbed of public funds.
This year we continued to investigate McDonald’s tax affairs and our ‘Secrets and Fries’ report, published in March, uncovered the burger giant’s latest £295 million tax dodge. Now, we need HMRC to investigate.
Standing with the Palestinian people against Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid regime
This year, Israel has ramped up its repression of the Palestinian people and their resistance to its apartheid regime, through militarised violence, mass arrests, and administrative detention. The brutality of Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime was seen in full force in August, as it once again bombarded the besieged Gaza Strip, killing 49 Palestinians and injuring hundreds. Israel’s efforts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been ongoing, through demolitions of Palestinian homes, land grabs, and illegal settlement construction. Throughout the year, we have campaigned to hold the UK government, and corporations like Barclays and JCB, accountable for their complicity in Israel’s crimes.
Against this background of increasing repression, in September, Israeli military forces raided the offices of our partner Adammeer and six other leading Palestinian NGOs. This followed the arbitrary criminalisation of six of these NGOs, including Addameer, in 2021. Palestinian civil society organisations and human rights defenders are being targeted for their important work in standing up for Palestinian rights and speaking out against Israel’s apartheid and occupation regime. Solidarity from War on Want supporters in the UK has been crucial to ensuring our partners are able to continue their essential work.
Calling things what they are enables us to confront and challenge them. For decades, War on Want has stood with Palestinians in calling out and naming Israel’s system of oppression over the Palestinian people as apartheid — a definition increasingly recognised and accepted by the international community, including human rights organisation Amnesty International, whose landmark report on Israel’s apartheid regime, released this year, proves the importance of War on Want’s ongoing work to speak truth to power.
Providing emergency support in Pakistan
In September, Pakistan suffered devastating flooding, claiming over 2,000 lives and affecting over 33 million people. Our partners in Pakistan, the Labour Relief Committee, responded immediately — providing emergency assistance to over 2,500 families across seven different districts in Pakistan; from medical care to food parcels, temporary accommodation and clothing. War on Want supporters in the UK responded to our call for emergency financial support to make this response possible.
As the flood waters receded, Labour Relief Committee have worked to grow the strength of rural communities in Pakistan, organising peasants and others to self-advocate for compensation. UK solidarity went beyond immediate emergency relief, with thousands of War on Want supporters joining the call from our partners in Pakistan for debt cancellation and climate reparations for the Global South.
Demanding climate justice for all
After decades of campaigning, the climate justice movement secured a historic victory at the UN COP27 Climate Summit in November. Global North governments ended their resistance to the demands of the Global South and established a global Loss and Damage fund. A crucial step towards climate justice, the fund will provide Global South countries — those most impacted by the climate crisis but least responsible for causing it — with the resources to adapt to the crisis, while compensating them for the damage done.
War on Want worked to mobilise international climate networks and amplify Global South voices directly to world leaders, helping to secure this breakthrough, along with the pressure brought by our international allies, partners and supporters. The fight is far from over, and we will continue to demand justice as the climate crisis worsens.
Fighting unjust trade deals
It now looks like the climate-destroying Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) — which allows fossil fuel companies to sue governments over climate action — is on its way out. We’ve seen incredible victories across Europe, as our allies have successfully pressured their governments — in France, Spain, Germany, Slovenia, Poland and the Netherlands — to join Italy in leaving the ECT. And in November, the European Parliament voted through a resolution urging the EU Commission to immediately initiate the process towards a coordinated EU exit.
We’ve been campaigning against the ECT for years, and it looks like 2023 may be the year it’s consigned to history, where it belongs. But the European Commission is still trying to avoid facing reality, and the UK government hasn't yet budged — so we need to keep up the fight in 2023.
Building cross-border solidarity between unions
This year the UK has seen a resurgence in union strength and activity — key to ensuring workers’ rights are respected and securing economic justice for the many. The lifting of Covid-19 restrictions allowed for War on Want to reconnect with our trade union affiliates and partners in person and take messages between our Global South trade union partners and UK trade union affiliates — sharing strategies, struggles and solidarity.
In November, we took a trade union delegation to Sri Lanka to visit our partners organising garment workers; Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU), Commercial and Industrial Workers Union (CIWU), and Dabindu and Women’s Centre, to show our solidarity and discuss how to ensure that as many garment workers as possible can access the crucial benefits of union protection. Funding from War on Want supporters and trade union affiliates has helped to enable trade union organising and new member recruitment in garment factories in South Asia over this year.
In the UK, our supporters took action against high street brands including Next and Matalan, demanding commitments on health and safety conditions in garment-producing factories. This led to the renewal and development of the Bangladesh accord, which has improved safety standards for thousands of workers.
Growing the food sovereignty movement in Kenya
Whilst corporate agribusiness has tightened its grip on the global food system, our partners in peasants' movements and farmers union across the world have been building practical solutions to the global food crisis. We have been collecting these stories and are excited to present them in the new year, in our latest Food Sovereignty report, but wanted to share one crucial success from Kenya.
The Kenyan Peasants League (KPL) is set on ending farmers’ reliance on dangerous toxic pesticides, or agrotoxins, which profit corporations but damage the health of farmers, consumers, the climate and the environment. KPL has been campaigning against the import of these agrotoxins — and building an alternative.
KPL has developed two organic pesticides, now being distributed among KPL members and other farmers. These affordable, accessible and safe alternatives to agrotoxins are a vital step in breaking corporate agribusiness’ domination over Kenya’s agricultural small-scale farmers. KPL has also successfully ended the importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into Kenya from countries like the US — which were previously planned to be facilitated through special "free trade" agreements.
It has been another hard year for many of us, but in the face of the challenges ahead, our struggle for justice will continue – will you join us?
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