In December last year, David Cameron announced that it was: “simply a waste to have a health service like the NHS and not use the data it generated. Let me be clear, this does not threaten privacy”, he reassured us, “it doesn’t mean anyone can look at your health records, but it does mean using anonymous data to make new medical breakthroughs”.
Cameron often inadvertently signposts the coming of a diabolical lie with the phrase “let me be clear”, as we know. We also know that so-called anonymisation of data offers no protection at all to identities and personal details. Campaigners described the plan as an “unprecedented threat” to confidentiality, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says, rather worryingly, that it will be a boon to research.
It’s common knowledge that many Coalition MPs and Peers are heavily financially invested in pharmaceutical and health care companies. Over 200 parliamentarians have recent past or present financial links with, and vested interests in companies involved in healthcare and all were allowed to vote on the Health and Social Care Bill. The Tories have normalised corruption and made it almost entirely legal. Our democracy and civic life are now profoundly compromised as a result of corporate and financial power colonising the State, and vice versa.
The Health and Social Care Bill, 2012, has a telling insert: The Secretary of State’s duty as to research, which is: “In exercising functions in relation to the health service, the Secretary of State must promote – (a) research on matters relevant to the health service, and (b) the use in the health service of evidence obtained from research”.
And also very worryingly: (1) The National Patient Safety Agency is abolished. (2) The National Patient Safety Agency (Establishment and Constitution) Order 2001 (S.I. 2001/1743) is revoked. (3) In section 13 of the NHS Redress Act 2006 (scheme authority’s duties of co-operation), omit subsection (2)
So we must ponder just how coincidental it is that Jobseekers are now being coerced into experimental drug trials, or risk benefit sanctions, as the trials are being dressed up as “job opportunities”.
People claiming Jobseekers Allowance while searching for new employment are being forced to accept ever-worsening working conditions or to join exploitative Government work programmes in desperate attempts to survive, as our civilised social safety nets and lifeline benefits are being torn away by a draconian and authoritarian Government.
The rising number of unemployed and underemployed citizens of the UK are having their desperation to survive exploited, enticed into zero hour contracts, workfare and now, clinical trials. My revulsion at this Government is at an all time absolute. It is surely time for the UK public to say enough is enough.
Jobseekers using the Government’s new job website – the Universal JobMatch – have been receiving multiple messages from the service inviting them to apply for jobs, only to find that these “employment opportunities” are actually clinical trials.
Mr Chris Morgan wrote to Scriptonite Daily, he was the first to flag up this concern. He said:
“I was dumbfounded, shocked and so angry that my government would send me on clinical trials…I didn’t think I’d be put out to pasture this early in my life, to go and become a lab rat”.
Chris lives with his partner and two children aged 9 and 11, and has been seeking work since losing his role in Health and Safety for retail giant Marks and Spencers in November 2012. He had been with the company for five years before being dismissed. He has subscribed to Universal JobMatch in the hopes of finding employment.
He logged on this morning to find five jobs recommended to him by the Government’s online job service. He said that he has been left feeling “sick to my stomach” after realising the Government considers participation in a clinical trial for £100 a day as his best current option of “employment”. Click on screenshot to enlarge
My UK job site lists: “Paid Clinical Trials – Permanent – to earn over £100 a day“
Chris is now concerned that by declining this recommendation he would be considered as turning down an “employment opportunity” and therefore stand to lose his “eligibility to claim social security.”
Here, we are seeing the development of a distinctly anti-welfare system which vigorously and absolutely exploits the most vulnerable citizens, and treats anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves unemployed, or inadequately employed, or disabled with utter contempt, stripping them of dignity. People are now expected to work for free, move out of their home if their children have a bedroom each, rely on charities for food, whilst Government ministers such as Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith claim with an utter poverty of moral responsibility that it’s all their own fault.
Most of us learned from history – the Victorian era and the Poor Law Reform – that poverty is NOT caused by the poor, but rather, by reckless Governments, their draconian ideology and poor economic decision-making. The punitive Poor Law Reform Act was based on the same claims of “making work pay” as the current Government’s welfare reforms are.
Tory “facts” are seen through a lens of pre-conceptions and ideology. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation choose to study poverty. Cynical Iain Duncan Smith simply changes the definition of it. What kind of society is this where poor people risk prosecution if they scavenge in bins for scraps, and now, where they are being forced into trialing experimetal drugs, under the threat of sanctions and subsequent starvation and destitution if they refuse.
I had some dialogue earlier with the International Human Rights Commission about this matter of serious concern, because of implications for the Human Rights of jobseekers.
Sir-Kurt Alleyne, International Human Rights Commission Ambassador for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland stated:
“I am greatly concerned that the Coalition Government have felt it’s justified to place Clinical Trial “Test Subjects” among persons Universal JobMatch (Job Searches). These are highly contentious and are in fact at times openly a direct risk to health and have been known to lead to irreversible negative health implications. As many are highly aware, refusing work will cause the DWP to Sanction a persons Claim. To offer any such positions to persons indicates that the government ministers responsible for authorizing this have felt that those desperate to find employment will place themselves in harms way to satisfy quotas required that enable a person to receive benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance ( JSA )”.
Sir Kurt Alleyne has called upon His Excellency World Chairman Amb Dr-Shahid Amin Khan, Ihrc Hq and the High Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Countries Ambassador, John G Raciti, and asked that support be given in these matters as a matter of duty in protecting Commonwealth Citizens, due to the:
“further serious implications being levied against Benefit Claimants. This furthers the already unacceptable manner in which persons are being treated and is unacceptable. This is forcing people to become test subjects if they cannot find suitable other employment on grounds DWP will in fact be able to Sanction a Claim for ‘Refusing Employment'”.
“At this time I fully believe that use should be made of the request from UN Special Rapporteur Ms. Rolnik. Whilst undertaking her recent Fact Finding Mission relating to Bedroom Tax which she is reportedly going to recommend its immediate removal, she has provided contact detail so matters relating to ESA, WCA, IC, SDA and other similar matters can be sent too her. I believe this should be fully utilized”.
An initial contact memorandum is to be written this morning. John H Ractiti said that the problem needs assessing [in terms of the full context] and solutions offered to help ease the pressure on millions of people, and tens of thousands of families within the Commonwealth.
At this point in time discussion about these concerns and strategic planning for support networks also to be sourced and introduce is taking place. This morning I will write to the shadow Cabinet to inform them of these very serious and extremely worrying developments.
Our Human Rights are a precious and valuable safeguard against the horrors of exploitation and persecution. They arose in response to the atrocities committed during the War and the Holocaust. The International Community sought to define the rights and freedoms necessary to secure the dignity and worth of each individual. Ratified by the United Kingdom, one of the first countries to do so, in 1951, those Human Rights originally established in the Universal Declaration have been steadily eroded since the Coalition gained Office. There’s a clear link between high levels of inequality and failure of Government’s to recognise human rights, and to implement them in policies.
Economic, social and cultural rights are recognised and protected in international and regional human rights instruments. Member states have a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights and are expected to take “progressive action” towards their fulfilment. The right to an adequate standard of living. However, the Government’s welfare “reforms” clearly violate this fundamental human right, and we are seeing a significant and substantial increase in economic discrimination and exploitation of the most vulnerable social groups.
Authoritarians view the rights of the individual, (including those considered to be human rights by the international community), as subject to the needs of the Government. Of course in democracies, Government’s are elected to represent and serve the needs of the population. Democracy is not only about elections. It is also about distributive and social justice. The quality of the democratic process, including transparent and accountable Government and equality before the law, is critical. Façade democracy occurs when liberalisation measures are kept under tight rein by elites who fail to generate political inclusion. See Corporate power has turned Britain into a corrupt state and also Huge gap between rich and poor in Britain is the same as Nigeria and worse than Ethiopia, UN report reveals.
In the UK, democracy is clearly being deliberately dismantled. It is unacceptable that vulnerable groups are being subjected to such ruthless exploitation at the hands of the Government and their corporate bedfellows. It’s time to be very, very worried. We must fight this unravelling of our civilisation and regression of our hard-earned social development. We really must.
I am suddenly and horribly reminded of Josef Mengele, infamous for performing human experiments on Nazi concentration camp inmates, including children, for which he was called the “Angel of Death”. He was also one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced laborer.
Godwin’s law has been repealed. The UK Coalition have severely restricted its credible and legitimate scope for application.
We are certainly climbing Allport’s Ladder.
If you have had any experiences regarding similar exploitative job suggestions, or unfair benefit sanctions, negative experiences with Atos and the WCA and any other issue related to welfare reform, please do share them with the UNHRC.
Raquel Rolnik also wants to know about any experiences you have had involving not being allowed or able to speak out, as is your democratic right. These experiences, for example, may include being stopped from speaking out on the streets at events or meetings, as well as being restrained or curtailed during a protest or demonstration.
I think that the poll tax-styled council tax benefit cuts are also having a dire impact on many people and this would be worth including, too. As would any experience with difficulties accessing legal aid, as that reform also breaches Article 6(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights: the right to a fair trial.
Raquel Rolnik’s email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also write to:
His Excellency Mr Ban Ki Moon
United Nations Secretary-General
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
Click to enlarge image.
More examples of Covance advertisements on the Simply Hired UK site, and the experimental drug trials are listed as “jobs and vacancies” here. It is extremely worrying that clinical trials are being described and presented as permanent paid work by the Government’s online job service. It’s not the only time that the Coalition’s Universal Jobmatch website has caused concern. In August, the site advertised six jobs for dancers, table-top dancers, and entertainment dancers, in an American style lap-dancing club in Norwich.
The venue hiring is the Sugar & Spice American table dancing club, which describes itself on its website as offering its customers a “unique experience” that is “compared to the out-dated traditional gentlemen’s or strip club”. As well as offering “main-stage entertainment,” it says it offers “private dances in our basement booths or on one of [our] dance beds from topless to fully nude”.
The adverts on the taxpayer-funded website have been greeted with outrage. Quite properly so. Labour MP Stella Creasy told The Independent that the Government-endorsed vacancies were “degrading”. She said “No one should be asked to expose themselves in that way or face a sanction [having their benefit stopped].”
People claiming jobseeker’s allowance are required to use the one-year-old site to look for work or can risk losing their benefit. Furthermore, people risk sanctions of up to three years if they are deemed to fail in meeting strict criteria for eligibility, which includes a required amount of job searching, and applications for work. Some posts are “recommended” by job centre plus advisers on the system, and must be followed up. If claimants don’t apply for those recommended posts, they are sanctioned.
I found some further information about the company widely advertising clinical drug trials as “jobs”. In the 1990s, Covance performed studies sponsored by the tobacco industry claiming that even extreme exposure to secondhand smoke was safe for humans. According to the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, second-hand smoke substantially increases the risks of lung cancer and heart disease. Covance internal documents from 2002 discuss a “Philip Morris/Covance Project Team” for studies. At a November 2005 tobacco trade-group conference in Manila, Philippines, Covance’s presentation was entitled: “How Can Covance Support Research and Development Needs of the Tobacco Industry?”
Covance became the subject of controversy following allegations in 2003–2005 by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that non-human primates were being abused in its laboratories in Germany and the United States.
Covance, also known as Hazleton Laboratories in 1989, was also at the centre of a major scandal involving release of a strain of the Ebola virus. In November 1989 at the Hazleton Primate Quarantine Unit in Reston, Virginia, lab monkeys were found to have carried Ebola virus from the Philippines. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention intervened to “eradicate” the infected animals, burn the complex down, and avoided a potentially disastrous outbreak.
Afterwards, in February 1990, a number of infected monkeys were shipped to Hazleton facilities in both Virginia and Texas. This strain was also found to be airborne. More Reston ebolavirus infected monkeys were discovered in 1992 in Siena, Italy and at the Texas Hazleton facility again in March 1996. Curiously, the personnel that were infected remained “asymptomatic”, according to reports. But generally, this disease has a high mortality rate.
In June 2005 Covance filed a lawsuit in the United States against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the investigator for fraud, breach of employee contract, and “conspiracy to harm the company’s business by deceitfully infiltrating and videotaping the … facility.” The company filed a parallel lawsuit in England in an attempt to stop PETA showing the tape; the British judge called the footage “highly disturbing,” and ruled that there was a legitimate public interest in the material being shown.
Covance USA – drug tests on primates filmed undercover by PETA
“We can judge the heart of men by their treatment of animals” – Immanuel Kant.
“The Coalition Government is determined to secure and expand the UK’s position as an international hub for innovation, medical science and research and in the last 12 months has generated more than £1 billion industry and private sector investment. The Prime Minister will use his visit to the US to meet with CEOs and senior figures from leading pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Baxter, Covance and Pfizer. The meeting will focus on the UK’s life sciences sector and initiatives such a genomics and dementia research”.
A policy advisory group – The Ministerial Industry Strategy Group – is co-chaired by the Secretary of State for Health and the Chairman of the British Pharma Group, and aims to promote a “strong and profitable UK-based bio-pharmaceutical industry capable of sustained research”.
Profit over and above human need – “The drug companies will get away with whatever they can get away with within the law to look after the interests of their shareholders. But they couldn’t get away with these things were it not for members of my profession being willing to collude with them and put patients in second place”: unfavourable results from medical trials are being withheld, MPs warn