High Street shops ‘shamed’ on sweatshops

HUNDREDS of workers in Bangladesh are still living in poverty despite working for some of the UK’s biggest high street stores, a report published today has revealed.

The report by anti-poverty campaigners suggested staff at suppliers in countries such as Bangladesh and China cannot afford basic items, education or medicine.

The charity War on Want and the sweatshop campaign Labour Behind the Label wrote the report, Let’s Clean up Fashion, after checking the sourcing policies of 23 national retailers.

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

One Bangladeshi worker, Mohua, who earns about £16 a month making clothes for Asda and Tesco, told researchers: “The wages I get are not enough to cover the cost of food, house rent and medicine.” In Sri Lanka, workers sewing school dresses for M&S received just 10p of its £6 retail value.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer for War on Want, called on the Government to introduce laws to stop companies exploiting workers.

“This report exposes retailers’ empty rhetoric on ethical treatment for workers who make their clothes, but remain trapped in poverty. The British government must introduce regulation to stop UK companies exploiting overseas workers.”


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