This day reflected a brilliant national collective response to JCB and to the NSPCC, a charity which chooses to accept that firm’s money, despite full knowledge of the company’s tarnished reputation. In a nutshell, JCB is:
- named by the UN as complicit in Israel’s war crimes.
- being investigated following Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights complaint for failures to observe OECD guidelines on human rights.
- increasingly visible in reports of home demolitions in Palestine.
SO, WHAT HAPPENED ON 4TH MARCH?
This was the first day of a two day national conference organized by the NSPCC. In the advert, NSPCC asserted ‘Every Child has the Right to Grow up Safely’, and our campaign asked ‘How Safe are Palestinian Children?’ Our demand was that NSPCC stop taking money from JCB because the values of the company are totally at variance with the stated values of the charity.
The campaign coalition comprises: Protecting Palestinian Families, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD UK), Social Work Action Network (SWAN), UK Palestine Mental Health Network, PSC England and Wales, Scottish PSC, the Shoal Collective and Boycott Israel Network (BIN).
- Each of the 50 speakers and facilitators of the Conference received two letters, one from the broad coalition, one from the Director of PSC, informing them of concerns about NSPCC’s acceptance of JCB’s defenses of itself and the charity’s continued partnership with the firm.
- 9,337 letters were sent, facilitated by PSC, from 3000+ participating supporters. These went to 3 key members of the NSPCC’ s decision making body: CEO, Peter Wanless; Chair of Trustees, Neil Berkett and Head of Fundraising, Josephine Swinhoe.
- Many additional individualized letters were sent to the NSPCC by members of the coalition groups, but also by concerned friends and colleagues who were shocked at the link between JCB and NSPCC.
- A Twitter storm saw huge numbers of posts being made, using the conference hashtag (#HowSafe2021) and the campaign hashtag (#HowSafeArePalestinianChildren) and copying @NSPCC and @JCBmachines
CAMPAIGN PROMOTION WEBINARS:
The campaign has been widely promoted. These have provided opportunities to thoroughly explain the issues.
- ICAHD UK has hosted / co-hosted 3 webinars:
Important articles from social work and mental health professionals have been published in journals and sites with a very wide reach within the profession.
- On the day the NSPCC conference opened, the Professional Social Work Magazine published a letter, see below, entitled “By Accepting JCB money, NSPCC is Complicit in Bulldozing Homes”, signed by 29 social workers, all members of BASW (British Association of Social Workers).
- Also, a background article by Simon Cardy on the whole campaign and its ethical basis was published on the SWAN (Social Work Action Network) site.
- Earlier, Martin Kemp, of UK Palestine Mental Health Network (UKPalMHN) had this article published in Middle East Monitor; his piece was entitled “Clearly, Not Every Child is Worth Fighting for: racism, conscience and the NSPCC.”
ANTHEM FOR THE DAY:
A song was specially composed, performed and recorded for the day. It has been widely broadcast – an unexpected and welcome creative gift.
- The George Cowley Experience song can be heard here. It was composed by Peter Unwin, a lecturer in Social Work and one of the signatories to the BASW letter mentioned earlier. Please share widely.
CITY AND DEALERSHIP ACTIONS ON 4TH MARCH:
Despite Covid-enforced days of isolation, individuals and pairs of people still managed to produce powerful demonstrations against JCB. These have been shared on Twitter and Facebook.
- BRIGHTON posted pictures of a number of actions, adding to Twitter’s impact.
- City centre actions
- Actions near JCB sites
- SHEFFIELD and STOKE ON TRENT ACTIVISTS targeted dealerships:
- the World Logistics centre of JCB Engines near Stoke on Trent. The protest focussed on the devastating impact of home demolitions on children and the callous disregard by the Bamford family (owners and Directors of JCB) for the wellbeing of Palestinian children.
- A simultaneous protest was held in Sheffield at the main dealership for JCB in the north of England, TC Harrison JCB. Banners read: “Anthony Bamford: working with Israel to demolish Palestinian homes” and “Anthony and Carole Bamford: Why don’t you care about Palestinian children?
- Information sheets providing details about the complicity of JCB and the hypocrisy of the NSPCC were hung in the two bus stops used by the JCB workforce. They informed them of their employers' complicity with Israeli war crimes.
JCB is clearly alert to the campaign. At one of the dealership sites, JCB blockaded its own entrance and called the police, despite there being only two people there, one of whom had made it clear no mass protest was planned and no disruption envisaged. In its defence to the NSPCC, JCB has claimed that the Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) complaint has been dismissed (it hasn’t) and also asserted that they have asked the UN to remove them from the list of complicit companies (UN hasn’t budged). These over-reactions at the dealerships and threadbare excuses reveal a company rattled by the campaign.