Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:
- Reports of modern slavery in UK car washes
Reported by Sarah Mullane
According to a report by leading modern slavery charity ‘Unseen’ a perplexing amount of modern slavery is currently taking place in car washes across the United Kingdom. Using a newly founded Modern Slavery Helpline, the charity gathered some startling data over the last 21 months, showing that there had been more than 350 cases of modern slavery in the industry over the last two years. The data collected between October 2016 and June 2018 indicated that there may be over 2000 potential victims, with the majority of cases being reported in the Greater London area.
Within Greater London, more than 48 cases with 266 potential victims were reported, making up 13.3% of total cases nationwide. Of all calls to the helpline; car wash complaints comprised 15% of all modern slavery cases, of which 17% of these potential victims were found to be Romanian. Andrew Wallis, CEO of Unseen, urges the public to report when recognising the signs of slavery, pointing out that only 1% of tip-offs come from victims themselves and stating that the report “underlines the crucial importance of everyone being able to both recognise the signs of slavery and exploitation and being willing to report.”
Despite the report, it has emerged that successful prosecutions remain rare, with only one case resulting in arrests. The report has now been referred to the environmental audit committee, who have held a second evidence session this week on their Inquiry on Hand Car Washes. The Inquiry aims to examine the indicators of modern slavery in car washes.
- Johnson to pay damages in talc cancer case
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Healthcare manufacturer Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay £3.6bn damages by a US jury in a high-profile talc cancer case. The pharmaceutical giant has been taken to court and will pay-out to twenty-two women who have claimed that its talc products have caused them to develop cancer. This legal battle has been fought alongside almost nine-thousand additional legal cases, which are still ongoing. The company have expressed their plans to appeal the decision, stating that they are “deeply disappointed” with the verdict.
During the six-week trial, lawyers for the claimants allege that the company was aware that their talc had been contaminated with asbestos, but failed to warn consumers about the risks of continued use of the powder. Of the twenty-two claimants being represented in the case, six have died from ovarian cancer. The women’s lawyer, Mark Lanier, stated that “for over forty years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products” and they he hopes the verdict “will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc and ovarian cancer.”
Johnson & Johnson continue to deny that their products contain asbestos, remaining confident that they do not have a link to ovarian cancer. In a statement following the verdict, they claimed the result was the “product of a fundamentally unfair process” which reflects that “the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.” A leading women’s health charity Ovacome, has issued a fact sheet as a result of these proceedings, claiming that some studies show a link, but that more research is needed.
- Vote Leave whistleblower sues TaxPayers' Alliance
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
In an alleged unfair dismissal, Shahmir Sanni claims he was fired after he raised concern about the Brexit pressure group. Sanni believes that the reason for this dismissal was his public revelation about potential illegal behaviours of the campaigners.
He was a volunteer at the BeLeave youth campaign which involved an estimate of £700,000 donations. The centre was also being investigated by the Electoral Commission for illegal spending, which would likely undermine the campaign of found to be true.
He is suing the group on the ground that he was fired “because of his belief that protecting the integrity and sanctity of British democracy from taint and corruption was paramount” according to the Guardian.
The Taxpayers’ alliance responded in defence of this with the assertion that the group “acted at all times in a fair and correct manner. They wholly reject Mr Sanni’s claims, having concerns of the effect that the trial will have on the reputation of the group.
Sanni’s reason for dismissal was said in a letter to be his punctuality and a concern about his public comments about the funding.
The letter stated that “These existing issues have now been compounded and brought to a head by recent events concerning referendum donations (hereafter referred to as ‘the funding issue’) and the new campaign you are working on.”
Nevertheless, Sanni is firmed about his decision to seek justice and protect democracy. The result may influence whistle-blowers behaviours in the future particularly in the political sphere due to the scope of protection available.
Find out more at the Guardian
- Shareholders’ backlash after Royal Mail reveal bosses pay
Reported by Dan James
Shareholders of Royal Mail have voiced their anger over rises in salary for new bosses of the postage company.
70% of shareholders voted against the director’s remuneration report which outlined recent increases of pay for top-level bosses. A vote which is not binding.
Rico Back, the new chief executive, is set to be paid over £100,000 more than his predecessor Moya Greene. Back plans to remain living in Zurich where he ran General Logistic Systems, and to commute to the Royal Mail’s headquarters in London.
The chairman of Royal Mail, Peter Long spoke at the company’s annual meeting, explaining that Mr Back would be being paid the exact same as his predecessor due to a difference in their pension schemes.
The annual meeting caused the remuneration committee chair of the Royal Mail, Orna Ni-Chionna to release a statement explaining her disappointment that the shareholder’s vote did not support the increase in executive’s pay.
She went on to say “we will consult very closely with them and with the shareholder representative bodies as part of our scheduled review of the company’s remuneration policy. This is due to take place in the autumn.”
Ms Ni-Chionna added: “The incoming CEO’s pension entitlement is lower and the salary is higher than the retiring CEO. We did not feel it was appropriate to reduce the fixed pay for this very demanding role.”
Read more at the BBC.