Qatar World Cup: UK firms urged to do more to protect workers’ rights
The consensus that prevailed among the three main parties on climate change before the last election has been repeatedly broken down by the right wing of the Conservatives , who see taking a sceptical stand on green issues as a key of appealing to the party’s core voters. Osborne has made no secret of his wish to loosen the UK’s carbon budget. After David Cameron in 2011 personally approved a tough fourth carbon budget lasting to 2027, the chancellor secured a review of the target that will be carried out next year. But the preliminary conclusions of the committee, published on Thursday, only take account of the UK’s carbon budget with respect to the government’s ambitions for Europe -wide emissions targets, and the current circumstances with regard to greenhouse gas output across the EU. Ministers will have to wait until December for the committee’s full report, which will examine in detail the full domestic and international context for emissions reduction, and make a recommendation on whether the budget targets should stay at current levels. “Changing the [carbon] budget would undermine already fragile [energy] investor confidence,” David Kennedy, chief executive of the committee, told the Guardian. Ministers could choose to ignore the advice of the committee, set up under the Climate Change Act, but to do so would provoke a major political row. Many Tories would prefer to abolish the committee and repeal the act, but that would require a major revolt. Kennedy was in line to be appointed chief civil servant in charge of Decc, but this was vetoed personally by Cameron , for fear of howls of outrage from his backbenchers. Kennedy wrote to the Lib Dem energy secretary, Ed Davey , on Thursday to relay the committee’s latest findings. He wrote: “The assumptions regarding EU circumstances upon which the fourth carbon budget decision was made have not changed, and therefore there is no legal or economic justification to change the budget in this respect at this time. Rather, the budget remains cost-effective, with manageable costs and impacts, given our assessment of EU developments.” The government’s official policy is to push in Brussels for the EU to adopt a tough new target of cutting emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, and a target of 50% cuts if other countries outside the EU also up their efforts on climate change. Kennedy said: “Government should continue to push in the EU for an ambitious 2030 emissions target.” When the committee asked stakeholders for their views, they said that clarity on the UK’s position within the EU’s negotiations should be a top priority.
Following warnings from international trade unions that as many as 4,000 migrant workers could die in Qatar before a ball is kicked unless working practices are reformed, several firms have pledged to use their influence to improve safety standards and living conditions that have led workers to die from falls, traffic accidents, dehydration and exhaustion. But an on-the-ground investigation of Qatar’s building industry this summer has concluded some are not doing enough. Jill Wells, a former construction specialist at the International Labour Organisation who is drafting a report on the problems for the non-governmental organisation Engineers Against Poverty, said that despite advances in the fair treatment of workers in the UK, British consultants appear to be wary of proposing improvements to their Qatari clients. “The British companies that are advising and managing projects on behalf of government clients in Qatar are aware of the problems of late payment of workers at the bottom of the supply chain,” Wells said. She said the worst abuses appeared to be occurring with labourers hired by myriad small building companies from countries including India, Lebanon and Egypt. “But they ” could do more, for example, to ensure that their clients are aware of the importance of prompt payment and of finding ways to make sure that the funds needed to pay the workers do get down to the subcontractors on time. One contractor told us all the advisers want to do is please their clients, but they should take more responsibility for workers’ welfare when managing projects.” Late payment can trap workers, meaning they feel obliged to work on unsafe sites for punishing hours and can lead to hunger and exhaustion, campaigners warned. A spokesperson for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government’s export promotion arm, said that while the UK construction industry could be proud of having one of the best health and safety records in the world, “UKTI advises and expects UK firms operating abroad to obey all local laws and employment regulations”. UKTI through the British embassy in Doha, has campaigned for British companies to win work in Qatar with predictions of contracts worth $64bn (40bn) up for grabs between 2014 and 2016. It has promised businesses direct support from David Cameron to win contracts, and the prime minister hosted the Emir of Qatar at Downing Street in January. Britain also has high-level influence with Qatar through the royal family. Prince Charles persuaded the former emir to scrap plans for a 3bn redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks in London. Asked to comment directly on the safety of workers on projects in Qatar, several firms declined. Arup said that “as designers we do not employ or award construction contracts in Qatar therefore, any comment from us would be uninformed speculation”.” It added: “Around the globe, Arup is firmly committed to adhering to all the relevant labour, safety and ethical standards.” Mace said: “We cannot make any statements or responses on behalf of the joint venture,” but added: “It is simply unacceptable for people to get hurt while at work.” Other firms said the revelation of abusive conditions for migrant workers would prompt them to use their positions to influence a change.
Braintree Takes Venmo Touch International with UK Launch
Rules on how companies are audited, drawn up by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), are mandatory in Britain and elsewhere in the European Union, but a decision in 2010 to drop a specific reference to prudence has been questioned by some investors. Prudence requires accountants to err on the side of caution when treating something not covered by a specific IASB rule and the investors said its omission from the foundation for the IASB’s rules, known as the conceptual framework, was inconsistent with some EU and British laws. They argued it could help banks mask any problems they were suffering, a particular concern given banks were given a clean bill of health just before taxpayers had to rescue them in the 2008 financial crisis. One of the critics, Tim Bush of shareholder pressure group Pirc, challenged the legality of the IASB rules in a 24-page letter in 2010. Bush had no immediate comment on Thursday. Britain’s government is “entirely satisfied that the concerns expressed are misconceived”, consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson said in a statement on Thursday. Melanie McLaren, a director at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), which regulates accounting in Britain, said the government statement, backed by a legal opinion for the FRC, ended the uncertainty over accounting practices. “We felt we needed to listen to the investors and give the matter due consideration. Having done that we needed to make sure we were quite firm to close that uncertainty down as we approach the financial year-end,” McLaren told Reuters. The IASB is reviewing its conceptual framework and the UK government and FRC maintain a reference to prudence should be reinserted. “It’s not as if there is no concept of exercising caution in the conceptual framework, but we feel it has been de-emphasised,” McLaren said. IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst has so far resisted such calls, saying prudence was there “in spirit”. A 2011 report from Britain’s upper legislative chamber, the House of Lords, said the IASB rules led to a “culture of box-ticking and ‘neutrality’ at the expense of prudence”, especially for auditing banks. “The government should reassert the vital role of prudence in audit in the UK, whatever the accounting standard,” it said. The IASB had no comment on Thursday.
UK backs global accounting rules, wants ‘prudence’ back
Venmo Touch is available immediately to Braintree merchants and consumers in the UK and will be available in additional European countries in the coming months. To learn more about Venmo Touch, please visit touch.venmo.com . About American Express American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. A leader in global payments, American Express is the largest card issuer by purchase volume and operates a worldwide network that processes millions of transactions daily. American Express offers a broad array of payment, expense management and travel solutions for consumers and corporations including credit cards, charge cards, insurances, travellers cheques and foreign exchange services. Learn more at www.americanexpress.co.uk and connect with us on facebook.com/AmericanExpressUK and twitter @amexUK. About Braintree A catalyst for the next-generation of commerce, Braintree provides the easiest way to pay and get paid across any device. Braintree’s global payment platform processes more than $12 billion annually (with $4 billion on mobile) for thousands of online and mobile commerce innovators including Airbnb, Fab, LivingSocial, OpenTable, TaskRabbit and Uber. Merchants in more than 40 countries across North America, Europe and Australia can accept payments in more than 130 currencies using Braintree. Today, Braintree powers single-click purchasing for more than 40 million consumers and its top-rated mobile app, Venmo , gives people an easy way to pay using their mobile devices. To learn more, visit Braintree at www.braintreepayments.com and on Twitter @braintree. @yahoofinance on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook Related Content Chart Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the “Enter symbol/company” at the bottom of this module. You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes. Search for share prices Terms Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE, and NYSEAmex when available.