Having moved to Peebles in 2002, self-proclaimed ‘stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s Big Corporations and the stranglehold they are having on communities and small businesses across the world.
COVID-19 or Coronavirus, no matter what you call this pandemic that is killing thousands of humans around the world, one thing for sure, its consolidating power and money in fewer hands, again! Some of the biggest names in the business world are making huge profits due to this virus as their companies will tend to benefit from billions of dollars that governments from all across the world will pay, in the hope to find a vaccine or cure. Fear is the key for making people believe in the lies they will peddle to gain more control over our lives. The UK Covid-19 benefit scheme once again helps big businesses while smaller and medium size establishments are left high and dry. It is laughable to see billionaires like Richard Branson asking for government bailouts while relaxing on his island. It is also shameful to see our politicians pander to the rich by passing legislation during these times that will help consolidate these corporations even more at the expense of small to medium sized businesses.
Covid-19 may also leave us with the global and local economy in fewer hands mostly made up of big companies that will increase their share of profits, employment opportunities, government subsidies and tax breaks for the wealthy. The stock market has seen an exponential rise in share prices of global corporations like Amazon and Big Pharma, that are decimating small business everywhere they go. India is facing a massive crisis where the government has allowed big operators in the market to continue their dominance while restricting small business. Many of these small businesses will not survive as they are not getting the same financial support from the government. Closer to home in Scotland it is slightly different but the same logic of providing full financial support to big companies in terms of furlough, grants and zero interest loans continues. In the US from the mid 90’s to the middle of this decade, workers employed by companies with 10,000 or more staff increased by 4% raising it to overall 30% of the employment share of the market. Capitalist among you will repeat the mantra “markets will decide” knowing well that the markets are failing citizens during this pandemic across the world, which is why governments have to step in to protect and provide for its citizens(tax payers).
This trend towards the rich getting richer will only accelerate if we, the people, don’t challenge and confront our politicians to stop and reverse this process. Companies like Amazon will completely control both the supply and distribution chain and will leave many to work as self-employed or zero hour contractors with no pensions and other benefits while at the same time getting tax breaks and subsidies to create jobs from the government!
The biggest negative impact this crisis is having will be on our well-being both financially and emotionally long term. It’s time to wake up and challenge the way business has always been done and hold our politicians to account once and a for all.
The revolution is coming but maybe not in Peebles as too many people here are living a very comfortable life and will not take any steps to challenge the status quo.
Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 1st May 2020.
Bosco Santimano – Founder/Executive Director
What a fine mess we find ourselves in during the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world. The sector that was already struggling before the virus hit us was farming. Due to the rise of English nationalism which was followed by Brexit and the unwelcoming attitudes of all Brexiteers to European nationals; we now fully understand the contributions to sectors like farming made by nationals from Romania and other eastern European nations. Citizens of these countries were doing the jobs British folk considered lowly and beneath them. Take into consideration that these jobs are mostly low paid and seasonal and also having to wake up at 4am! You get the picture why these jobs are not popular with the locals. Farmers faced the first wave of labour shortages soon after the EU referendum in 2016 and only got worse over the years until the final nail in the coffin was delivered by the people of England who voted overwhelming to elect a Conservative & Unionist government to get Brexit done. Where does that leave us now? Farmers are now complaining that they need over 70,000 seasonal workers this year from Britain to make up those workers who will not be coming or can’t come due to the hostile nature and immigration rules imposed by the Tories on the whole of the United Kingdom. Repeated pleas made by the Scottish government to have separate immigration rules for Scotland has fallen on deaf years by Boris Johnson and his government.
“Feed the Nation” was a major hiring drive initiated by the three main recruiters(HOPS, Concordia & Fruitful Jobs) in agriculture to attract locals to fill the jobs now left vacant during the coronavirus pandemic. It attracted more than 27,000 applicants but just over 4000 took up an offer for an interview. Other EU countries like Germany are allowing over 80,000 seasonal farm workers to come from Eastern Europe to help harvest crops during the peak season. All workers will have to be flown by air, undergo the necessary medical tests and follow social distancing guidelines while on the farms.
There is a simple solution to this problem! Why don’t all the Brexiteers now come forward to save queen and country? Brexit means Brexit! So please signup along with your family and friends who voted to leave the EU and save Britain once again; by getting off your backside and taking back control of your farms from EU/foreign workers. As this goes to print six charter flights have already landed in England bringing around 400 workers from Romania in the first of many flights in the coming weeks. Fruit and vegetable pickers will be specially flown in to meet demand and shortage of farm workers. 99 percent of seasonal agriculture jobs are filled by eastern Europeans, namely Romanians and Bulgarians according to the Office of National Statistics as reported in 2018.
Scotland is at a big disadvantage in this crisis as part of the United Kingdom as it has no powers to operate and do what it thinks is right for its farmers and citizens.
It will be an absolute scandal if crops are left to rot due to a shortage of farm workers and this will only make the current shortage of food worse, expensive and beyond the reach of normal citizens. Food poverty rates have already spiralled out of control during the lockdown and the battle to feed the nation would be lost due to political apathy and negligence. Brexit will just tip us over the edge.
It’s not too late to change course.
Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 1st May 2020.