Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A good day to bury bad ideas

Just when you thought the gilded representatives of the overclass running the coalition could humiliate the powerless more or less at will, here's a cheering example of what can happen when people actually stand up to bullies:

Britain's biggest private sector employer has agreed to pay people taking part in a flagship Goverment work-experience programme, amid a growing backlash over the scheme.

Supermarket chain Tesco was forced to act ahead of expected protests outside its shops on Wednesday by campaigners who have described it as “slave labour". Argos said it wanted assurances that young people who do not take part will keep their benefits. Other leading high street names including Burger King and Pizza Hut are also reported to be reviewing their involvement in the scheme.
Ministers are now battling to save the work experience scheme, which has seen more than 34,000 young people aged 18 to 24 year olds sign up.
Christopher Hope, writing in the The Telegraph.

Fantastic. And all down to activists like Louise Whittle, who refused to give in to the cynicism and learnt helplessness that convinces so many of us that what we say or believe can't possibly stop the powerful from doing exactly what they want. She wrote to tell Tesco what she thought of their involvement with this exploitative scheme (most people would have given up, assuming that they wouldn't listen, or wouldn't care what we thought, before even putting finger to keyboard), got your standard boilerplate corporate brush-off non-answer, but still got off her backside and protested.

She, and everyone else who actually did something to stand up for the people at the bottom of the heap, and against those who'd like to trample all over them, should be very proud today. And those of us who tend to grumble about the injustice of it all without actually doing very much about it, need to take a long look at ourselves.