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Podcast: Richard Murphy, Taxation, Secrecy Jurisdictions and the Joy of Tax

This article is a response to the presentation given by Richard Murphy on his new book ‘The Joy of Tax’ which was launched at the 20th Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair.  He spoke on a panel with Lesley Riddoch and Andy Wightman, and you can listen to the audio recording of the event in the podcast below. Read more

Corporate MOTing: Hints and Tips on Interpreting Business Reportage Part Three: SWOTS, PESTS, and CSR by Doreen Soutar

So welcome to part three. A quick recap on the first two parts: if you get a hold of the annual accounts of any given company, it can tell you a fair bit about what the company is like. We can make a stab at telling how the senior executive team wants the reader to view the company, and how the company makes their money. Read more

Corporate MOTing: Hints and Tips on Interpreting Business Reportage Part One: Annual Reports: What Are They Good For? by Doreen Soutar

Mindful consumption is a concept that is increasingly acceptable in the mainstream. We pretty much all have an idea of what a ‘green’ or ‘ethical’ product is like – sort of – and a lot of us would like to buy more of this kind of product, even if we don’t always manage to live up to the image of ourselves we give to market researchers about how green we are.

Now, I am not having a go at you – there are only a select few of us who have been spared the necessity of buying the cheap generic version of a product rather than the premium-priced fair-trade/local/organic/hemp-wrapped/made-on-the-premises-by-virgin-youths version. Sure we would all rather have the good stuff, but being hungry is not a reasonable option to being ethical. And your bum survives being attacked by cheap toilet roll now and again. So going cheap is neither sinful nor unusual. Read more

Critical Apprenticeships: The Wrights and the Wrongs of Passage

We live in a time when the meaning of language in policyland has become so eroded that a collective sense of confusion raises its head when words like ‘apprenticeship’ are thrown about. It seems that there is a common puzzlement now as to what it means in practice….

We have heard a great deal about apprenticeships over the last years, and indeed, as economic doctrine steadily rolls in like a harr from the sea, we discover apprenticeships being presented under a bold educational flag. In this article I am going to ask ‘Are the majority of us having cheap unskilled labour for big firms re-packaged and sold back to us as skill providing foundations and futures to careers ?’.  I shall be trying to tackle this by presenting an indepth analysis of government reports and other sources created on the subject over the last five years.

Where possible, the reports and papers have been embedded in the article or links provided to them so that the reader can evaluate the original texts for themselves.  Also, the discussion will explore some parts of the larger economic backdrop to provide a more meaningful context for us to place the exploration of apprenticeships in this time.

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The Moral Marketplace by Doreen Soutar

As Kermit famously said, it’s not easy being green. And ironically, as ethical consumption gets more popular, it has also become more difficult to judge which products are ethical and which aren’t. In this article, we start by looking at the part emotion plays in purchasing decisions and the gradual demand for greater product morality. We assume that sellers – spookily enough – are highly interested in selling us stuff, and getting our money is what gets them out of bed in the morning.

We end up at the shocking conclusion that we will only get more ethical products if we give our cash to sellers that treat their produce as if it is worth something to them. Bet you weren’t expecting that!

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Catalysing Equitable Pay in the Private Sector: Equitable Pay as Procurement Criteria by Benjamine Irvine

In response to our Freedom of Information request Salford stated that although it did not currently specify in any tenders that the living wage of £7.45 an hour is required, ‘The City Mayor is currently developing an Employment Charter which will set minimum standards for people in work. This will include the Living Wage. The city council hopes the Charter will be agreed with a wide range of employers.’ The Council claimed to be in talks with a number of partners about their introduction of the Living Wage and was, ‘also carefully considering what extra procurement freedoms the new Social Value Act will give us as both an employer and commissioner of services in improving the terms and conditions of working people in Salford.’

In the launch of the City’s employment charter the City Mayor has expressed the intention to create ‘A Living Wage City’ where the full Living Wage is a minimum and is in talks with major contract partners to implement it, with the promise of more announcements to come. He states that the council’s responsibilities as a Living Wage Employer includes rejecting, ‘the commissioning of services which embed poor pay and poor conditions’, and expresses the intention, ‘to use the Employment Charter to lift local pay levels in our commissioned services and amongst our contractors in Salford.’ Read more