Pressure Groups

Pressure Groups
What is a pressure group? A pressure is an organisation that does not put up candidates for election, but tries to influence government policy or legislation. For example, in March 1998 around 300,000 people went to London to protest about the Labour government?s rural policies for example the Countryside March ? the government reacted by announcing plans for a Ministry of Rural Affairs and by publishing a white paper investigating all aspects of rural life. Pressure groups also provide a means of participation in local politics between elections. They can also be described as interest groups, lobby groups or protest groups. A pressure group can be a large organisation like the cbi (Confederation of British Industry), which represents 150,000 businesses, and it can also be a smaller scale pressure group like clara (Central Area Leamington Resident?s Association), which represents less than 300 households campaigning to improve Leamington Spa. There are quite a number of smaller pressure groups which are only set up in order to influence one decision (e.g. a group may be set up in order to protest against a telephone mast being erected). The aim of all pressure groups is to influence the people who actually have the power to make decisions and they seek to influence the decisions made by those who do hold political power
Pressure groups provide a means of popular participation in national politics between elections. They are sometimes able to gather sufficient support to force government to amend or even scrap legislation. A pressure group can use a variety of different methods to influence law and government legislation. Firstly, it can inform legislators of its member?s preferences. Alternatively it may give financial incentives or time to help with an election campaign. Also its members may threaten, as a group, to vote in mass against a party. Fourthly, a pressure group may speed up legislation by writing bills. Finally, a pressure group may attempt to influence members of the executive, who have some law making input and who can partly decide the strength and effectiveness of law enforcement. 1 Sectional pressure groups seek to represent the common interests of a particular section of society. 2 Promotional pressure groups endeavour to promote a particular cause, and for this reason are sometimes called ?cause? groups. 3 Insider pressure groups have strong links with decision makers and are regularly consulted. Pressure Group against gap The Gapatistas are a pressure group which is intent on convincing people to boycott gap, they have a number of reasons for this which include the companies exploitation of third world workers and the logging firms which are owned by the same parent company, they also own Banana republic and old navy stores, Gapatistas say they have good reason for their ill feeling: In a panorama investigation in 2000 Paul Kenyon found a factory producing gap clothing inside he found the following conditions Children as young as 12 working 16 hour shifts, abuse and physical violence towards members of staff, staff working 7 days a week with no holidays, staff forced to work overtime or be fired, no seating for staff, staff sitting while taking a break are physically abused and the wage for this injustice £8 a week Fiona King from save the children says the ?No child labour, No sweatshop slogans? of gap are just a marketing gimmick. After the investigation aired Nike who also manufactured at the factory, they said they would sort out the problems in their factory and would send the children to school and pay for them to study and gap said they would not do this and dismiss them. Saipan is one example, it is the furthest usa territory away from the main land as such all it?s products can display ?Made in the usa, many workers are exploited and have to sign ?shadow? contracts which take away many of their human rights and don?t allow them to get married or some even to fall in love, taking away many of the rights granted to anyone on US soil. gap has broken child labour laws in Indonesia, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, and Mauritius. The parent firm of gap, the Fischer family, own one of Americas largest logging firms, they have currently received a contract for logging in one of the last few remaining red wood forests and are logging trees unsustainably including many over 200 year old trees (as shown below). The pressure group has a variety of ways in order to influence decisions made by gap and its consumers, and hopes to influence government decisions and trying to inflict laws and legislations. The main way in which it tries to do this is through its website (www.gapsucks.com) through this website which contains a variety of material including slogans (?we?d Rather Wear Nothing than Wear Gap?), doctored photos of adverts, petitions and videos. They have actual protests in a variety of cities and wish to their message known to a wide range of people Another method that the pressure group has is to hold the international day of action against Gap. The Regional Months of Action against Gap, from April through November 2002, lead to an International Day of Action on December 1, 2002, with the goal of having at least one person leafleting in front of every Gap, banana republic and Old Navy store worldwide and there is approximately 3,000 stores worldwide. On January 13-14, 1999, three separate lawsuits were filed challenging the unlawful sweatshop conditions in the Saipan, cnmi garment industry, where gap manufactures some of its clothes. A total of 26 U.S. based retailers and manufacturers have been sued for doing business in Saipan and using ?indentured slavery?. 19 companies have settled the lawsuits since then. The 19 companies that have settled the lawsuit have agreed to abide by the new Saipan Code of Conduct which includes prohibiting Saipan-based contractors from violating the law in the future. It also requires factories to be monitored by Verite, a non-profit Massachusetts based independent monitoring firm. In addition, the settlement calls for retroactive relief, payments to garment worker class members whose rights were violated in the past. With the 18 companies, one of the few companies who haven?t settled is gap, they are trying to escape the possibility of paying a settlement and are fighting the case in the court, the pressure group Gapatistas are trying to make sure gap take notice of them and are informing consumers about the effect this is having on the workers and the child labour being exploited. The companies that have settled include: � Calvin Klein, Inc. � Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. � Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc. Those that have not yet settled include: � gap Inc. � Levis Successes They have been successful in some ways by reducing the overall profits of gap and these methods have meant gap have had to take some notice. Though this has helped, the majority of the public are unaware of gaps illicit trading and remain loyal shoppers. Staff are trained that to reply to questions with pre set answers such as ?No gap doesn?t use sweatshops? and the company proudly displays its fair trade code of conduct. Also its official website www.gapinc.com features a large section on the company?s workforce and its manufacturing procedures and how it doesn?t use child labour further influencing loyal customer?s views.

Pressure Groups 7.8 of 10 on the basis of 1369 Review.