Tag Archives: Occupy London

We are the 99%

It makes my heart soar to see Occupy London Protesters taking inspiration this weekend from the month-long occupation of Wall Street.

This is a planned peaceful protest to occupy the Square Mile in London in order to highlight the social and economic injustice in the UK and beyond as part of a global movement for real democracy.

It is so wonderful also, that the Vicar of St Paul’s has welcomed these peaceful protesters with open arms.  He understands their message and has asked the police to leave.  In return, as this is a peaceful protest, the occupiers moved to one side so that services were able to go ahead for today’s congregation.  It was wonderful to see such mutual respect and co-operation. I was even happier to see this actually got some news coverage this morning.  The networks have been shameful in their under-reporting of this issue in recent weeks.  This is one protest that deserves the oxygen of publicity.

I am so happy that people around the world are finding their voice and realising that together we can make a difference. That together we can stand up to corporate greed.  That we are the 99% of the population who are paying in blood sweat and tears whilst the 1%, even in a time of recession, are getting wealthier and wealthier.

One banner read The People are Too Big To Fail.  A poignant reminder that ordinary people’s needs have been completely forgotten during this economic downturn and yet it is their tax revenue that has kept the banking sector afloat since 2008.  A banking sector let us once again remember, that refused to take any responsibility for their part in the global financial crisis, that refused to rein in their excessive bonus culture after the crisis and are currently refusing to consider much-needed regulation.

Another banner said People before Profit. We live in a time when CEO wages have been escalating ever upwards completely detached from their work force or value.  In the US CEO pay has increased by 24% last year.  In the UK rises in Executive pay outstripped rises in performance.  On average FTSE Top 100 CEOs earned 221 time the UK median earning for 2010, and 417 times the national minimum wage.  It was also noted that private companies with large public sector contracts paid their Chief Executives far more than the highest paid public sector employees.  Another example of taxpayers funding the very wealthiest in society.

During the same time scale workers’ pay has, at the very best, only gone up by 3%, and is no match for the increases in fuel, food and energy.    At worst, jobs have been lost to make corporations ever yet more profitable.  Profitability which then translates into even higher  pay hikes of the CEOs.  A vicious circle if ever there was one and one that needs to be broken.

There is a wonderful book called The Spirit Level:  Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.  Quoting from Chapter 13 “Across whole populations rates of mental illness are five times higher in the most unequal compared to the least unequal societies.  Similarly, in more unequal societies people are five times as likely to be imprisoned, six times as likely to be clinically obese, and murder rates may be many times higher.  The reason why these differences are so big is, quite simply, because the effects of inequality are not confined to just the least well-off: instead they affect the vast majority of the population.”

This is why we need these protests.  Corporations and governments need to see the damage these terrible inequalities inflict on ordinary decent, hard-working people. The protesters occupying the financial districts around the globe are starting the discussion to make a better world, and I support them wholeheartedly all the way.

All sources quoted via the click through links.