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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 169 NO 36 3 Methodists guarantee staff a living wage 4-5 Libya moving on Alex McPherson-Glasgow 6-7 Time to think about the buses! Noel Staples 8-9 Letters 10-11 Sustainability at Svartbäcken Rae Ritchie 12 Global warming song Jamie Wrench 13 Sounds move through you Ian Kirk-Smith 14 Diversity and connection through Quaker history David Leonard 16 Q-eye 17 Friends & Meetings
Respect the wide diversity among us in our lives and relationships. Refrain from making prejudiced judgments about the life journeys of others. Do you foster the spirit of mutual understanding and forgiveness which our discipleship asks of us? Remember that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God.
Advices & queries 22
Above: These intersecting steel girders forming a cross were discovered by a construction worker while clearing Ground Zero. The cross became an icon of hope and comfort while work throughout the recovery and clearance of the site. The girders were then moved to a temporary resting place on Church Avenue in New York before being moved to the new 9/11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center. The Museum will open to the public in 2012. Further information can be found at http:// www.911memorial.org
Cover image: End of summer. Photo: Trish Carn.
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the Friend, 9 September 2011 News
Methodists guarantee staff living wage
The Methodist Church have become the first major faith group in the UK to guarantee that all their staff will receive a living wage. Over 1,400 people employed by local Methodist churches will see their wages rise as a result. Most of the staff affected are cleaners, caretakers and café workers.
The move has put other faith groups, including Quakers, under pressure to follow suit. British Quakers guarantee the living wage to staff employed at a national level but not to wardens and other workers paid by Local Meetings. The Methodists’ commitment, which came into force on 1 September, covers both local and national staff. The living wage is calculated by Church Action on Poverty as £7.60 per hour. The legal minimum wage is £5.93 for people over twenty-one and only £3.64 for those under eighteen.
A Methodist spokesperson told the Friend that there had been ‘overwhelming’ support for the decision at Methodist Conference, although nearly a third of Methodist churches had not previously paid the living wage. She accepted that there are some Methodists who oppose the idea, but not ‘very many’.
Leo Osborn, president of the Methodist Conference, said that the primary motivation was a desire for justice. He also wants Methodists to demonstrate their opposition to ‘a long-hours, low-pay culture’ that often leaves little time for family, community or leisure.
The decision was warmly welcomed by Church Action on Poverty (CAP), who said that denominations vary considerably when it comes to staff pay.
The Church of Scotland and United Reformed Church, while not making the same guarantee as the Methodists, have urged their local churches to pay the living wage. The Church of England and Roman Catholics are not committed to the living wage even for nationally employed staff.
CAP’s director, Niall Cooper, told the Friend he would like to see Quakers at national level do more to encourage Local Meetings to pay the living wage. ‘Quakers have a very strong tradition of social witness,’ he said. He urged Friends to ‘send out a clear message’ of an expectation on ‘all Quaker groups to be paying the living wage’.
Britain Yearly Meeting could not make a comment at this time.
A secret location?
The London Chamber of Commerce (LCC) has been accused of running scared after moving a seminar for arms companies to a secret location. The event on 8 September, which will explore arms sales to the Middle East, was due to take place at the Royal Bank of Scotland. It was moved after the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) called for protests outside.
The blurb for the seminar declares: ‘the Middle East is one of the regions with the greatest number of opportunities for UK defence and security companies’. It refers to sales to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
The LCC failed to respond to the Friend’s request for a comment. CAAT’s Anne-Marie O’Reilly said: ‘It’s a shame that they seem to be focusing on hiding the event from awkward protests rather than understanding just how abhorrent it is’.
The seminar falls just before one of the world’s largest arms fairs. Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) will be held at London’s Excel Centre from 13 to 16 September.
Sam Walton of Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) said that Quakers are ‘united and passionate’ in opposing the arms fair. Events planned by campaign groups include a Day of Prayer on Sunday, a multifaith vigil, a lobby of MPs and nonviolent direct action. He added: ‘QPSW has been working all year round to build up the nonviolent protest movement opposing DSEi’.
Paths not taken
The Oxford Research Group, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks made on 11 September 2001, has launched a new report.
‘A War Gone Badly Wrong’ considers the ‘catastrophic mistakes’ of the last decade of the ‘war on terror’ and assesses the consequences of the response from the United States and its Coalition partners. The report questions whether the response was either appropriate or wise and whether the results so far have been counter-productive – and may even indicate the need for an entirely new security paradigm.
The report’s author, Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies, said: ‘To see the attacks as requiring a major military response – a ‘war on terror’ – assigned to the perpetrators precisely the attention that they sought, and proved to be deeply counter-productive’.
The report compares the original war aims of the Bush and Blair administrations in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack with the actual outcomes. Their policies have had profound results. The impact of the attacks across the Middle East, North Africa and South and Central Asia, the report states, will be felt for decades to come.
the Friend, 9 September 2011