Navigate / search

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.

Read more

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!

Read more

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

Intellectual Property: Fair Dealing and Public Interest

Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. ‘Fair Use’ allows limited use of copyrighted material without the need to get permission from the copyright holders. It makes provision for the legal, unlicensed citation or inclusion of copyrighted materials in another author’s work.  There are numerous examples of fair use including criticism, review, commentary, search engines, parody, journalism, research, teaching, archiving and scholarship.

A significant statement on what constitutes fair dealing was given by Lord Dunning MR in the case of Hubbard v Vosper (1972). In 1971 the book ‘The Mind Benders’ was published.  It was written by Mr. Cyril Vosper, the first defendant, and published by Neville Spearman Ltd., the second defendants. It was very critical of the cult of Scientology.  On the same day the Church of Scientology of California went to the judge and obtained from them (ex parte) an interim injunction to restrain the publication of the book. Read more

Public Places Where We Meet And Share Are Third Places

What is the value of a pub ?  How important is a cafe ?  Why do we need libraries ?  Do we just wash clothes in laundrettes ?  These are some of the questions which I am interested in when I explore the concept of ‘third place’.  Pubs, cafes, libraries and laundrettes can all be ‘third places’ according to Prof Ray Oldenburg who coined the term.  He argues in detail of the importance of these social spaces which exist outside of our homes (first place) and workplaces (second place).  Third places are the spaces where we meet and share with other people… Read more