Past News Archives
Not Suprisgnly, Jobs with Justice (JwJ) awarded General Electric their National 'Grinch of the Year' award. The Grinch of the Year award is given each year to the candidate voters determine has done the most harm to working families in the past year. Also, at the year ends, North-South disputes persist in the mediciene issues as WTO deadlines loom, the rich industrlized countries want to protest their finacial interests by outlawing cheaper clone mediciene to be produce and sell in developing countries.
News and Analysis:
1) GENERAL ELECTRIC WINS NATIONAL GRINCH OF THE YEAR 2002 (JWJ)
2) North-South Disputes Persist as WTO Deadlines Loom (IPS)
George W. Bush, Wal-Mart runners-up in contest to determine who did the most harm to workers and their families this year.
General Electric - 37%
George W. Bush - 30%
Wal-Mart - 22%
All Other - 11%
From December 3rd though December 18th, Jobs with Justice (JwJ) held the second annual online election for the National 'Grinch of the Year' award. The Grinch of the Year award is given each year to the candidate voters determine has done the most harm to working families in the past year. Over 1,700 votes were cast in this year's election.
General Electric won the Grinch of the Year election with 37% of the total votes. Despite record profits, GE wants working families and retirees to pay substantial increases in health care costs. The increases are the first ever mid-contract and are just the tip of the iceberg according to GE, which says that come 2003 negotiations it will seek even more cost shifting. While GE picks the pockets of working families and retirees, it is lavishing perks on current and retired executives. Most notorious is former CEO Jack Welch's contract where GE paid for everything from his laundry, vitamins and cable TV to VIP seats at Yankee stadium, a luxurious apartment and a Boeing 737 jet airplane. GE complains about rising health care costs, but doesn't want to work to fix the system because it makes millions off its Medical Systems division and health care financial services operations.
GE workers will present the award to local plant managers in the coming months. By publicly awarding the Grinch of the Year Award, our hope is that the GE managers' hearts will grow 3 sizes bigger, as Dr. Seuss envisioned.
In a repeat performance of his 2000 Presidential run, George W. Bush failed to capture the popular vote in this election, winning 30% of the vote for his anti-worker policies.
Wal-Mart won third place in the national Grinch of the Year contest for the second year in a row for their blatant disregard for workers' rights in the U.S. and abroad. However, Wal-Mart won local JwJ Grinch of the Year contests in St. Louis, MO, Eugene, OR and Milwaukee, WI. Other popular candidates in the national election included the West Coast Waterfront Coalition, Comcast, and United Airlines. To learn more about the candidates' qualifications, visit http://www.jwj.org/Grinch/2002Vote.htmwww.jwj.org/Grinch/2002Vote.htm.
Each year JwJ coalitions across the country hold local Grinch of the Year elections to determine the most deserving greedy Grinch in their hometowns. So far this year's local winners include: Wal-Mart, the Kentucky Courier-Journal, LSG Sky Chef, Waste Connections, and the Greater Providence, RI Chamber of Commerce. To learn more about this year's local winners visit http://www.jwj.org/Grinch/2002Local.htmwww.jwj.org/Grinch/2002Local.htm.
GENEVA, Dec 15 (IPS) - The divergent interests of the developing South
and the industrialised North when it comes to access to essential medicines
and to special and differential treatment continue to muddle World Trade
Organisation (WTO) talks with just five days left before the deadline for
resolving the two matters.
In the remaining days before the WTO begins its year-end recess, the institution's 144 member states face the daunting task of resolving the two contentious issues if they are to comply with the resolutions adopted by their trade ministers at the November 2001 conference in Doha, Qatar.
The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which covers pharmaceutical patents, may not be enacted to impede member countries from taking steps to protect the health of their citizens, according to the section of the Doha Declaration on the relationship between international trade rules and public health.
The Doha conference also commended the WTO to establish, before 2003, the necessary procedures for countries with zero or insufficient capacity to manufacture their own essential medications to take advantage of TRIPS provisions allowing for low-cost imports.
The agreement authorises governments, in cases of health emergencies, to grant licenses to produce otherwise patented drugs, though it recognises the royalty rights of the pharmaceutical corporations holding the corresponding patents.
The vast majority of developing countries lack the industrial infrastructure to take advantage of authorisation to manufacture needed drugs, such as those used in treating HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis.
And the Doha Declaration requires the WTO to regulate poor countries' access to generic medicines produced in other developing nations.
Generic drugs, which are identified by their active ingredient, not a brand name, are much cheaper than their patented equivalents. The big pharmaceutical companies, however, maintain that producing generic drugs is a form of piracy.
In the process of drafting the rules mandated in Doha, which extended throughout this year, disputes have dragged on, in large part due to the objections of the industrialised countries that are home to the transnational pharmaceutical giants.
One such controversy is related to determining which countries should be allowed to import generic drugs.
Argentina's chief negotiator at the WTO, Alfredo Chiaradia, commented that at the Doha meet the ministers did not establish different categories for the developing world.
However, several delegations from the North are attempting to differentiate the 49 nations that the international community recognises as the poorest from the rest of the developing countries.
The current chairman of the WTO General Council, Sergio Marchi, Canada's ambassador to the organisation, said late last week that "there needs to be some generosity and some understanding on the part of developing countries" in order to resolve the matter.
Marchi did not name names, but suggested that developing countries with higher incomes -- "they have the resources, and they have the capacity and some of them have the ability to manufacture" pharmaceuticals -- admit that this chapter of the Doha Declaration was not intended to benefit them.
The diplomat apparently was referring to South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, but a negotiator commented to IPS that countries like India, Brazil or South Africa could be included in that category. The latter three have led the international campaign of the last few years to gain access for poor countries to urgently needed medicines at low cost.
Talks about the text on developing countries importing generic drugs will continue in the coming days at the TRIPS Council, chaired by Mexican diplomat Eduardo Pérez Motta.
Marchi told a press conference Thursday that the final date for resolving differences is Dec 20, as that is the day the WTO wraps up its administrative activities until January, when the deadline set in Doha will have passed.
He urged the delegates to keep in mind the importance of the tasks at hand, admitting that, "collectively, maybe we have lost our way a bit."
One of the points in dispute is to establish which generic medications can be imported by developing countries.
Chiaradia and other negotiators have stressed that no restriction of any kind was agreed in Doha, but the United States is lobbying so that only drugs to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and certain other infectious diseases would be given this sort of authorisation.
The document that Pérez Motta is negotiating lays out some procedures for obtaining the right to pharmaceutical imports, but the developing countries complain they are too cumbersome.
Chiaradia says these rules set up a series of requirements that ultimately restrict the Doha mandate, and could even contradict it.
Marchi rejected the notion that industrialised countries are trying to block the developing worlds' access to medicine. "We don't want to impose new hardships and procedures for developing countries," he said.
"But at the same time we don't want any drugs or medicines intended for AIDS victims to not even leave the airport or to find themselves in some other rich markets or on the black market," said the Canadian diplomat, urging WTO members to "recognise the need for safeguards."
The mission agreed in Doha was to address "the poorest of the poor in the most remote places of the world to deliver affordable drugs in a most efficient way possible for people in need," recalled Marchi.
Another stumbling block in the WTO negotiations is the issue of "special and differential" treatment for developing countries, given the economic disparity between them and the industrialised world, which puts them at a disadvantage in trade terms.
The Committee on Trade and Development, chaired by Jamaica's ambassador Ransford Smith, is hammering out the necessary provisions for granting special and differential treatment. Industrialised countries have objected to proposals that seek to extend the benefit to all agreements of the multilateral trade system.
The matter was to have been resolved in July, but the deadline came and went without an agreement. Marchi announced that it has been extended to Dec 20.
In spite of the looming deadline and continued differences of opinion,
the General Council chairman asserts that "the political will is still
there" among the WTO member states to resolve the pending issues before
the end of the week, the last chance to comply with the Doha mandate. (END/2002)