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Campaigners Call on Kingfisher to Increase B&Q Wages



Board members at Kingfisher’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) tomorrow will be called upon to pay B&Q staff the Living Wage set out by the Living Wage Foundation. Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, will attend the AGM on 15 June to ask the board to reassess and reverse the cuts made to B&Q staff rewards. The voluntary Living Wage Foundation’s (LFW) Living Wage is higher than the Government’s National Living Wage (NLW).

McDonagh will ask the board to reaffirm its values as a sustainable business leader and employer of choice by paying the voluntary Living Wage McDonagh is attending the AGM as a representative of ShareAction, a charity which promotes Responsible Investment. ShareAction’s AGM Army project supports individuals to attend company AGMs and raise issues directly with the board.

Citizens UK, a community organising charity, has been leading the Living Wage campaign since it was first launched in East London in 2001. There are now over 2,600 accredited Living Wage employers with the Living Wage Foundation, including IKEA, Nestle and Chelsea FC. ShareAction runs a programme to promote the Living Wage at FTSE100 companies, backed by a coalition of investors representing £50bn in assets. So far 29 of the FTSE100 have accredited.

Kerry Coke, a leader for South London Citizens in Merton, explained why the Living Wage is an important issue in her community. She said: “We have a number of B&Q employees in our community. They are a big employer in our area, and it’s hard for local families to make ends meet without a Living Wage to pay the bills and buy essentials. The cost of living in London is becoming ever more expensive and we feel families deserve to earn a wage that truly reflects the cost of living which the Government’s so called NLW doesn’t adequately do.”

The LWF’s rate of pay is independently calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. The Foundation announces its new rate every November during Living Wage Week. The current rate is £9.40 per hour in London and £8.25 elsewhere in the UK.

This is not to be confused with George Osborne’s budget announcement in 2015 when he announced a hike in the minimum wage for over 25s to £7.20, rising to £9 per hour by 2020, calling it the ‘National Living Wage’ when in fact it was a new national minimum wage.

Upon the introduction of the Government’s so called NMW in April of this year, much debate has surrounded the way it has been implemented by many employers such as B&Q who have been accused of reducing pay elsewhere in order to fund it, such as cuts to Sunday pay. A petition to highlight this was set up by an anonymous B&Q employee which has subsequently received over 143,000 signatures. The employee said: “B&Q is a large part of Kingfisher and has always prided itself on having family values. Does Kingfisher feel it’s acceptable to cut pay and rewards for the oldest members of its family? What impact will that have on morale in stores?”

McDonagh has been vocal in her criticism of the way employers have implemented the new minimum wage premium for over 25s, since hearing from a number of concerned B&Q employees in her south London constituency – many of whom could have been up to £2000 worse off under the proposals.

In advance of the AGM, McDonagh said: “I am very much looking forward to having the opportunity to hold B&Q to account for its actions at the Kingfisher AGM.

“As a result of my campaign against B&Q’s contractual changes, which would have left thousands of employees significantly worse off, I was glad that B&Q decided to extend their period of compensation for a total of 24 months. However, along with Citizens UK, I am very worried about what will happen after this period is over, and we have had no assurances from B&Q that no employees will lose out. I will be asking B&Q executives what progress they have made regarding to what will happen after this compensation period is over.”

In response to the pressure, Kingfisher has since claimed that the company will compensate any workers who are worse off under the new proposals. But South London Citizens leaders want them to go further.

Pete Brierley, Lead Organiser for South London Citizens, said: “We support any rise in the minimum wage. The Government’s so called NMW announcement is a response to years of campaigning for fairer pay by Citizens UK. But we must remember that for many low paid workers, this rate still doesn’t cover the cost of living, particularly in London. Responsible employers, like we hope B&Q will prove to be, can and should pay more than the statutory minimum and pay the Living Wage as calculated by the LWF to reflect the true cost of living.”

Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive at ShareAction, said: “We’re delighted to support Siobhain McDonagh MP to attend the Kingfisher AGM to put the issue of fair pay firmly on the board’s agenda. She is one of hundreds of people that have been supported by ShareAction to bring issues to the attention of board directors of FTSE 100 companies. Company AGMs are a vital arena in which directors can be held to account. This is economic democracy in action.”


How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
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Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House



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Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

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Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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