From the TUC

Day one: A good life?

22 Nov 2008, By

Yesterday was Day One in my attempt to evaluate – and hopefully shape – the ethical impact of going about my day to day business and, as Lawrence suggested I would in the comments section, I’m already finding things difficult.
In the morning I bought The Independent which came with free bottle of Buxton Spring Water. I wouldn’t normally buy the Independent (which has just announced massive job cuts – the NUJ’s response is here), but the water was FREE – except of course anything that increases the consumption of bottle water is a BAD THING. Environmentally, bottle water is a disaster, and I have no excuse other than it was very, very early, and I wasn’t really thinking straight. A quick trawl on the web also reveals that Buxton Spring Water is produced by…Nestle (unionised, but controversial to say the least and worth a thousand blogs on its own).
My journey to the Unions 2020 conference today was courtesy of Virgin Trains (unionised), and in terms of environmental impact the train is a far better bet than any other way of getting to and from London, so all in all the best choice I could have made.
Lunch was Pizza Express. Pizza Express were in the headlines some months back for sacking UNITE member Nabil Guisguis for speaking out on the company’s policy on tips (they skim off tips left by credit card). We left a cash tip, but although UNITE have not called for a boycott of Pizza Express, I reckon we should have eaten somewhere else. Part of the problem though is not knowing how other restaurants and cafes in the area deal with this issue, though I’m pretty sure Pizza Express aren’t the only culprits. All that said, their policy on ‘credit card’ tipping is scandalous – which is why UNITE’s excellent campaign for ‘fair tips’ deserves a name-check.
The final leg of my journey home from work was by Merseyrail, another unionised rail company. Being unionised doesn’t make any company perfect, but it does tend to make a difference, expecially in a safety critical industry like rail. Would you want to travel on the rail equivalent of Ryan Air?

Other transactions yesterday included:

  • Costa Coffee at Chester train station (actually a franchise run by Caterleisure – not sure if they are unionised)
  • Mersey Tunnels – run by the local transport authority MerseyTravel. Unionised.
  • The ‘Raven’ pub, which is part of the Wetherspoons chain. As far as I am aware Wetherspoons does not recognise unions, but according to Ethical Consumer they score a quite good ‘7’ on their ethical league table (Pizza Express limped over the half-way mark on 5.5). I’m always a bit sniffy about Wetherspoons. By and large their pubs are always pretty decent, and the food and drink are well priced, but they always seem a bit soul-less to me.

All in all, an OK day, but by no means perfect. Lets see what tomorrow brings!