Categories
Politics Projects & Ideas

What do they know

Some european democracies have transparency laws, usually called Freedom of Information laws, that force the public institutions to answer the questions citizens ask them about their work and the data they generate. Sometimes, though, the same public institutions make it difficult to make information requests, by obscuring the process or the possibility to do so.

What do they know is a website that allows citizens in the UK to browse through Freedom of Information requests and make their own to all british public institutions.

You choose the public authority that you would like information from, then write a brief note describing what you want to know. We then send your request to the public authority. Any response they make is automatically published on the website for you and anyone else to find and read.

Under Freedom of Information (FOI) law, they have to respond. The response will either contain the information you want, or give a valid legal reason why it must be kept confidential.

What do they know is an open source project made by the non for-profit organization mySociety, which has developed other projects on accountability of the public institutions, like FixMyStreet.

If you want to participate, you can contribute as a volunteer, either with time or money, to the project.

Categories
Education Intellectual Property Projects & Ideas

Open Knowledge Foundation

The Open Knowledge Foundation is an english non-for-profit organization whose objective is to promote open knowledge, defined as:

Any content, information or data that people are free to use, re-use and redistribute — without any legal, technological or social restriction. The main principles are:

  1. Free and open access to the material
  2. Freedom to redistribute the material
  3. Freedom to reuse the material
  4. No restriction of the above based on who someone is (e.g. their nationality) or their field of endeavour (e.g. commercial or non-commercial)

The main purpose seems to be to apply to culture and knowledge the same principles that were developed for free and open source software. To achieve their objectives they work on several projects, a couple of which revolve around the idea of open data and open government too. Some of their projects are:

If you want to participate, they are very open to suggestions, proposals for new projects and, of course, donations. You can also take a look at the tasks list on their wiki.

Categories
Unrest

Occupied factory in London, Einfield

Workers in a plant of car parts manufacturer Visteon located in Einfield have occupied and locked themselves in the factory after they were fired without wages due and redundancy pay. Sadly, their struggle was caught up in all the media frenzy surrounding the G20 meeting and so far, received little attention. This is the statement they released to the media.

Ford Visteon workers have occupied the Ponders End factory since Wednesday 1st April. The previous day in a meeting lasting just 6 minutes we were told that the European company, with plants in Belfast, Basildon and Ponders End, Enfield, was going into administration and that we were to leave – without our wages being paid. Personal possessions could be collected the next day, but at 10 o’clock the factory was locked closed. Workers had already occupied the Belfast factory.

The 200 workers who are part of the Ford subsidiary want the same conditions they have always had via “mirror contracts” with the parent company. Up to now they don’t know when they will get wages due, and their pensions are to be controlled by the government Pensions Protection Fund. This means a maximum of £9,000 a year and much reduced conditions! Some of the women and men have 40 years service!

The whole situation has been created for news management – announce it during the G20 and it will get buried in the media. And this is largely what’s happened. The move is to save Visteon USA money at the workers expense.

Unexpectedly Unite union members have taken determined action that bosses thought they had eliminated years ago.

The workers want their existing terms respected. Ford Visteon can’t be allowed to avoid their responsibility. So far they have tried legal intimidation but have even managed to mess this up.

As well as proper redundancy payments, some are suggesting that the skills of the workers who can make anything in plastic, should be used to make increasingly needed parts for green products – bike and trailer parts, solar panels, turbines, etc. Government investment in this rather than throwing money away to bankers could be profitable and save jobs in the long term.

Ford Visteon workers have been pleased at the support received from other Ford plants as well, such as Southampton, who are blacking Visteon products. Come to the factory in Morson Road, near Ponders End train station, to show your support. Join a support protest on Saturday 4th April 10am-11am.

Get your Union branch to pass a resolution in support, and help raise money by workplace collections.

This is a fight we can win. We’re off our knees and fighting fit!

*- Some Ford Visteon workers and supporters (from inside the occupied factory)*

Via Mute and Indymedia UK.

Categories
Unrest

“This is just the beginning”

A very appropiate headline to innaugurate this blog. A misterious organization called Bank Bosses Are Criminals claimed being the ones who vandalized the house of Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of Bank of Scotland who refused to give up to part of his 700.00€ a year pension. This is the email they sent to news organizations:

‘Fred Goodwin’s house in Edinburgh was attacked this morning. We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money, and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute and homeless. This is a crime. Bank bosses should be jailed. This is just the beginning.’

Via BoingBoing.