An Employment Contract that Violates Human Rights

Picture: OSG Global Issues Blog

Anna Majavu - May Day 2015 has just been observed, but around the world, including here in South Africa, hundreds of thousands of workers are toiling under “zero hours” contracts where they get jobs, but never actually work or be paid. A worker who signs a zero hours contract must remain on unpaid standby all week waiting to be called to work and may never be summoned or earn anything, but is prohibited from looking for supplementary work. Zero hours contracts completely disregard the minimum standards of "decent work" contained in the International Declaration of Human Rights.


Zwelithini's Lice Comment Only Deflects Attention for Parasitic Royal Households

Picture: King Goodwill Zwelithini courtesy Wikipedia Alexander O'Riordan - However objectionable King Goodwill Zwelithini's incendiary statements are for migrants, they are also illustrative of the anxieties of the Zulu royal house. Lice and ticks are scavengers that attach themselves to their hosts in a parasitic relationship living off their host without contributing anything of value. If anything, the life of these parasites is more akin to the modus operandi of royal families than that of migrants. With six wives, twenty-eight children and multiple palaces and luxury vehicles, Zwelithini gets over R60 million a year from the state with no conditions attached.

Time to Review Religion in South Africa's Schools

Picture: Teaching Adolescents Pierre de Vos - It is not always easy to hold an unpopular or minority view. It is even more difficult to hold a minority view on the emotive subject of religious belief and organised religion. When you happen to be a vulnerable and impressionable child, indoctrinated by parents and subjected to relentless peer pressure, it becomes even more difficult to hold any opinion of your own on the matter. It is for this reason that the right of children not to believe in a specific God or in specific religious dogma, must be jealously protected.

After Baltimore, a Call to Reclaim Mother's Day

Picture: CODEPINK/Foreign Policy in Focus Valerie Bell - It's hard for me to celebrate on Mother's Day. I feel the absence of my 23-year-old son, Sean Elijah Bell, who was killed on November 25, 2006 by police. A century after the founding of Mothers Day, our sons are still being taken from us. Society has not disarmed, but instead has militarized to the teeth. Mothers' sons everywhere are still killing and being killed. We all know we're going to die one day, but it certainly shouldn’t be at the hands of a public servant who's supposed to serve and protect us. This Mother's Day, let's come together to demand an end to this cycle of violence.

Are We Entering an Age of Increased Optimism?

Glenn Ashton - We live in tough times, often adrift in despondency. Given the scale of the challenges we confront - climate change, overpopulation, inequality and economic uncertainty compounded by the modern plagues of debt and overwork - it is a daily miracle we are able to extract ourselves from our beds. In spite of these realities I note a growing tendency toward increased optimism, manifesting at many levels - global, national and local. Perhaps my sense of a more empathetic zeitgeist only manifests in the circles I move in, perhaps it is imaginary. But the signals are pretty widespread.

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As British General Election 2015 Looms, Membership of Political Parties at All Time Low

Video Watch - Britons will go to the polls on Thursday, May 7, 2015, but membership of all political parties in Britain is at an all time low. Overall, there's been a downward trend in voter turnout since 1997. Politicians blame the phenomenon on voter apathy, but political analyst Zac Goldsmith contends that public disengagement with the political process can be attributed to the distance between politicians and the people. For example, almost two million people turned out on the streets to march against the War in Iraq. Despite public opinion, Tony Blair not only supported the war, but also dragged Britain into it.

Focus on Extreme Poverty in South Africa

Picture: Al Jazeera Video Watch - Some of the worst recent violence against migrants in South Africa - who many locals accuse of taking their jobs - happens in neighbourhoods of extreme poverty. A 2014 World Bank study found that about half of South Africa's urban population lives in informal settlements or townships. The report argued that they are home to about 60 percent of the country's unemployed. While the South African government claims it will tackle what it describes as the root causes of the problem, including poverty, unemployment and immigration, analysts argue that it is failing so far. Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford reports from Johannesburg.

Does Democracy Work?

Video Watch - VICE News traveled around the world speaking to people about democracy and differences in global attitudes towards popular rule. Covering many countries on almost all continents, VICE found young people disillusioned with the manner in which democracy is applied. People understand democracy to be a system of governance where elected politicians act out the wishes of the people who put them into power. It's "peoples' power", but overall there's a sense that corporate interests have too much sway over governments. Democracy can't be imposed on countries with alternative systems of governance, argue some respondents.

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