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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Let’s Clean Up Fashion

Anti poverty campaigners from War on Want and Labour Behind the Label have launched a report, Let’s Clean up Fashion, after checking the sourcing policies of 23 national retailers in the UK.

The report claims that most sweatshops are paying workers only half of what they need to live to cover basic expenses, including education and medicine.

Only three national retailers accepted the need for a significant improvement in pay and had “apparent genuine plans” to do so: Gap, New Look and Next. Kudos to them.

Twelve retailers did not respond – Bhs, Diesel, House of Fraser, Kookai, Matalan, Mk One, Moss Bros, Mothercare, Peacocks/Bon Marche, River Island, Rohan Designs and Ted Baker.

Sir Terry Leahy, Chief Executive of Tesco, was paid £4.6 million in salary and share bonuses in 2007 – enough to pay the annual wages of more than 25,000 Bangladeshi garment workers who supply Tesco.

Fashion brands have the money and power to do the right thing by the people who enable them to profit. How many more stories of exploitation will we have to hear before the industry takes responsibility and cleans up?

6 Responses to “Let’s Clean Up Fashion”

  1. Tenders says:

    I kind of agree with the article, but what needs to be remembered is that with globalisation companies are often moving into countries where the wages are naturally low, but they very much have an internal economy where everything is priced in a similar manner.

  2. The Old Hack says:

    Putting pressure on the big stores isn’t working. With them shareholder loyalty and value comes way above any sense of fairness or justice. Pressure needs to be put on the consumer – and herein lies the problem. When a low income family can go to one of the big stores like Tesco or Walmart and get their kids school uniform at a fifth of the price, they are not going to be easily persuaded to change their shopping habits – and in all fairness they cannot be blamed for taking the view that “charity begins at home” when kitting out their kids or themselves.

    I’m not in favour of over legislation, but here I think it is going to be the only answer to this problem. So come on Foreign Office and DTI – give us some good, joined up thinking on this, and prove to us that Labour really does have a social conscience.

  3. Jerry Prager says:

    say it isn’t so John, is the fashion world really that shallow ?

  4. david says:

    The industry, any industry, won’t do what’s right until it’s demanded by the stakeholders (either owners of the stock, the employees themselves, or perhaps the customers). Until someone actually stands up and says, “This is wrong and we won’t allow it to continue,” I doubt if anything can or will change. The status quo is too profitable.

  5. john baker says:

    Of course, I have a lot of sympathy for all these views. But for my part I’m in the consciousness-changing-business. Perhaps not as effective as many other ways, but in the long-run, I suspect, the only way we can go.
    Oh, and, Jerry . . . not shallow at all; as deep as your nearest merchant-banker’s pockets.

  6. photo says:

    i think that is not fair , i completly agree with you john