Posts Tagged ‘sweatshops’

Russell Brand sweatshirts from sweatshops?

June 12, 2015

Many garment-producing countries have minimum wages that are less than half of the value of a wage that is enough to allow a family to live with dignity. — Anna McMullen, Labour Behind the Label

A hatchet job in the Daily Mail, shock horror, Russell Brand exploiting Bangladeshi workers in their sweatshops to expand his evil clothing empire.

Shoddy reporting. Nothing more than a hatchet job on Russell Brand. Weasel words like grade-A hypocrite.

Russell Brand made a mistake. In good faith he placed a contract with assurances on production. When these assurances proved to be false, he admitted he got it wrong, pulled the contract.

Could the reporter not have gone to Russell Brand and said, did you know the conditions of production? But no, run to Daily Mail, Do Not Pass Go, collect thirty pieces of silver on the way.

Surely the focus should be on the company,  not Russell Brand? For who else are they delivering non-ethical clothes?

The company, Belgium-based  Stanley & Stella, admitted to the Daily Mail it had problems with illegal overtime in the Bangladesh factories.

According to the Daily Mail its clients include Next, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Stanley & Stella claim its workers are paid more and forced to do less overtime than in rival factories

The most important thing that makes our business a sustainable business, it is that we commit to have continuous improvements pushing forward all kind of barriers.

The company claims it is working to reduce illegal levels of overtime at the factory and had ended contracts with other factories which refused to stop pushing workers into 90-hour weeks.

Even the Daily Mail is forced to admit that industry regulator, Fair Wear Foundation, says the factory is one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators.

Thus even from accounts in the Daily Mail, the company Russell Brand placed his contract with is better than the industry average, not only better ‘one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators’. Not good, not ideal, but not quite as bad as the Daily Mail would have its readers to believe.

If the Daily Mail is now so keen to highlight the plight of workers in Third World sweatshops, will we be reading a few more stories, the first of a series, this time highlighting the big name fashion brands? Will the Daily Mail be refusing adverts from these brands until they clean up their act?

Stanley & Stella claim high ethical standards, that they are on the ground monitoring factories. How do they then explain workers paid less than a living wage, forced to do illegal overtime? How do they justify the huge disparity between low production costs and high retail price?

The Mail has discovered that those who make sweatshirts for Brand’s website work for up to 11 hours a day.

The starting monthly wage is 6,200 Bangladeshi taka (TK) a month, or around £52. This works out at around £1.98 a day, excluding overtime.

The minimum legal wage for Bangladesh is TK5,300 (£44.21) per month. That is far short of the TK25,687 – around £214 – which campaigners say is the minimum living wage.

Russell Brand placed his contract in good faith.

A big difference to the fashion industry whose buyers know exactly what is going on. They play factory against factory, country against country, to force down prices. They could just as easily use their buying power to force up labour and environmental standards, but they do not.

But real issues are raised. Workers are being exploited in sweatshops, not only by Primark, also brands selling expensive clothes, with massive mark-ups, fools and their money easily parted for a label.

Factory gate price around a dollar, retail in the shops around $70. A huge mark up. The wages to the workers could easily be doubled, and it would make not a jot of difference to the retail price.

Gap, WalMart, Hugo Boss, a very long list.

What you pay for is the label.

If the Daily Mail was interested in the fate of workers in sweatshops, they would be exposing Gap and other big names.

Big names play one factory against another, one country against another, to force down prices. They know what goes on in the factories, but prefer to turn a blind eye.

Questions need to be answered by Russell Brand on the massive mark up, where the clothes are being made, the wages of the workers, the hours worked, the working conditions.

Also, what social enterprises are being supported? We know Trew Era Cafe has been supported with money from Revolution.

Transparency is important for credibility. Set higher standards, force others to follow.

Slow fashion. Unbleached natural organic cotton, kinder on the environment, softer on the skin, looks good too. If dyes are to be used, then natural dyes.

Cotton is a very dirty crop. It uses vast amounts of water, huge amounts of chemicals. More water, more chemicals in the processing of the cotton. The clothes are usually made in Third World sweatshops.

Industrial cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging crops that Man grows. Organic cotton is much pleasanter to wear. Organic cotton is biodegradable and can easily be recycled.

Industrial cotton requires an enormous amount of pesticide to keep it viable. Each pound of product requires a third of a pound of pesticides, which adds up to 25 percent of all pesticides used in the US for 13 million acres of cotton. Many cotton pesticides are EPA toxicity class I, like the viciously effective insecticides Methomyl and Methyl Parathion. A study by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation revealed that pesticide usage per acre increased during the 1991 to 1995 period by 4.21 pounds to 14.15 pounds per acre. The reality in the Third World, where pesticide regulation is more relaxed, is much worse.

Commercial white cotton is by far the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world and a major global crop. Fifty-five countries rely upon cotton for a significant percent of GDP. Cotton processing also takes another toxic toll, as the use of chlorine bleaching agents, formaldehydes and phenols is quite dangerous to all life. Fabric dyes utilizing arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, zinc, and chromium are also very problematic. All processing stages produce large amounts of toxic wastewater. Azo dyes are cheap and common, about 2,000 exist. Many are water based and possess highly carcinogenic material absorbed by the skin and accumulated in the body. Inhalation, aquatic exposure or simple skin contact can be harmful. The EU has banned import and usage of the more toxic versions containing arylamines, though these products are used elsewhere. Other acid dyes produce waste streams with pH values above 11 and with possible carcinogen content.

Organic cotton is good for the planet, good for ourselves.

Natural cotton does not have to be any colour so long as it is off-white. Cotton grows in varying hues from purple to brown. Cross-breeding programmes have selected cotton of red, blue, green. This eliminates the need for dyes.

Slow fashion would set a standard. Clothes that look good, clothes that last. Style not fashion. Fashion is consumer addiction.

If people ask questions where their clothes come from, we would see an improvement.

Labour Behind the Label are the people to talk to about sweatshops. Maybe a Trews on the topic.

Labour Behind the Label are part of a European network on sweatshops.

Maybe a different approach is needed.

A few years ago, Paulo Coelho did a deal, whereby Mango sold limited edition t-shirts. The proceeds went to support kids in a favela in Rio through the Paulo Coelho Institute. Paulo and his wife Christina support these kids. One way is selling limited edition art and jewellery through Etsy.

The Way of the Bow has been produced as a collaborative effort. People can download for free. If they wish, they can make a donation to support the kids in the favela.

We used to have dark Satanic mills producing fabrics, they dominated the landscape. Now few are left. In their heyday they destroyed the India cotton industry, now it is the other way around. But, take into account shipping, employment conditions, it is now viable to produce quality clothes in these mills. Maybe one can be contracted to produce, or maybe the model Paulo Coelho used with Mango.

The East End of London used to be home to many sweatshops. Do any still exist?

Talking to my own contacts. T-shirts/sweatshirts retailing at a tenner, a fiver from supplier. A 100% mark-up. Supplier sources direct from sweatshops in Bangladesh. How much would it cost to source if specified unbleached organic cotton, living wage, no illegal overtime?

Advantage of production in the dark Satanic mills is better control. Can we trust what we are told in Bangladesh with the level of corruption?

Look to Barcelona, interlocking coops. When something is needed, a new coop is established. Crowd fund one of the East End sweatshops as a coop. Community owned, better pay and working conditions, producing clothes for other social enterprises.

The design of the sweatshirts poor. Remove what is on the back, retain small logo on the front. This would also reduce costs.

Greed

November 26, 2012

In their greed to get into a Wal-Mart store, not panic to get out of a burning building, shoppers trampled to death a Wal-Mart employee.

How debased have human beings become?

In Bangladesh, a sweatshop factory has caught fire killing over 100 workers. It was making clothes for Wal-Mart.

Only a few weeks ago, a sweatshop in Bangladesh or Pakistan caught fire. Who were they producing for?

Fatal fires are commonplace in sweatshops in Bangladesh.

Gap, Wal-Mart they know the conditions of sweatshops, but they choose to turn a blind eye.

Since 2006, more than 500 Bangladeshi workers have died in sweatshop fires.

Tensions have been running high between workers, who have been demanding an increase in minimum wages, and the factory owners and government. A union organizer, Aminul Islam, who campaigned for better working conditions and higher wages, was found tortured and killed outside Dhaka this year.

Huge projection overlooking Olympic park exposes Adidas exploitation‏

August 6, 2012
Adidas exploitation projection at Olympic Park

Adidas exploitation projection at Olympic Park

People leaving the Olympic Park last night after the men’s 100m final were greeted by this huge projection on a building, exposing the exploitation of workers who make clothes for Olympic sportswear partner Adidas. Yet one more example of the obscenity of corporate sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

While thousands of people who were at the London 2012 Olympics would have seen this, we want to make sure that thousands more see and share this image.

Please share with all your friends. Please tell your friends that Adidas sources its Olympic consumer tat from sweatshops.

The projection was made possible by the generosity of War on Want supporters, this projection can help shame Adidas to take action and end poverty pay. The more people who see it, the bigger the impact. Please share it now.

Please e-mail the boss of Adidas and demand an end to worker exploitation.

Adidas has already sold £100 million of Olympic clothing whilst workers making its goods around the world are paid poverty wages and are having to skip meals to survive.

This is exploitation. It wouldn’t be ok for Adidas to do this in the UK and it shouldn’t be ok anywhere else. Adidas must ensure that workers are paid enough to live.

The Adidas sponsored Exploitation Games

August 5, 2012
The Adidas sponsored Exploitation Games

The Adidas sponsored Exploitation Games

we are not in the welfare business. Our job is to make a profit. — Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer

Saturday War on Want put on the Exploitation Games, no corporate sponsorship necessary, outside Adidas flagship store in Oxford Street in London in protest at Adidas sourcing its Olympic consumer tat from sweatshops. Protests also took place outside Adidas stores in Manchester, Portsmouth and Exeter.

The Exploitation Games included activists confronting the hurdles faced by Adidas workers, such as poverty wages and up to 90-hour weeks, and, after the Olympics cheats scandal, badminton to symbolise alleged unfair play by Adidas.

War on Want sweatshops campaigner Murray Worthy, who stuck its anti-exploitation poster on the London store’s window, said:

These Exploitation Games expose the ugly truth behind Adidas’s failure to uphold the Olympics values of fair play and respect. Adidas must stop raking in profits at workers’ expense and instead ensure their pay reflects the vital part they play in its success.

Adidas are one of the sponsors of the London 2012 Olympic Games, but cannot afford to pay its sweatshop workers a living wage.

While Adidas reveals the company has already sold around £100 million of Olympic merchandise, War on Want points to Indonesian workers struggling to survive on pay as low as 5,000 rupiah (34p) an hour, and having to skip meals to get by.

War on Want stresses the stark contrast between workers’ poverty pay and the £529 million profits Adidas declared for 2011, as well as chief executive Herbert Hainer’s £4.6 million “compensation” last year.

It cites Adidas workers receiving far less than a living wage in the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China.

In addition, Cambodian workers earn £10-a-week basic pay, are forced to toil overtime hours, cannot afford decent food and live in squalid housing conditions.

In the run up to Exploitation Games thousands of people have written to Adidas, had tagged their clothes to expose the exploitation behind the brand, yet Adidas are still refusing to make basic commitments like paying a living wage.

No1 Top Story in The Exploitation Daily (Sunday 5 August 2012).

London 2012 sport or exploitation?

July 24, 2012
London 2012 sweatshops

London 2012 sweatshops

It is supposed to be a sporting event, not a huge mega vanity project for sponsors.

We have tax dodging, sweatshops.

London 2012 are still refusing to take responsibility for Olympic tat sourced from sweatshops.

Please sign the petition:

http://www.playfair2012.org.uk/lighttheflame/

With only a couple of days to go to the opening ceremony on Friday, maybe we will see some action on sweatshops.

Adidas worker exploitation for London 2012 Olympics

June 7, 2012
Adidas exploitation

Adidas exploitation

Adidas, one of the London 2012 sponsors, has been accused of sourcing its tat from sweatshops.

As Adidas take centre stage as the official sportswear partner of London 2012, the harsh reality of life for the workers who make their clothes is being exposed.

Workers making Adidas clothes around the world are paid poverty wages, have little or no job security and face harassment or dismissal if they try and organise trade unions to defend their rights.

This is exploitation. It’s not ok for Adidas to treat workers like this in the UK, and it shouldn’t be ok anywhere else.

Adidas – which has more than 775,000 workers making its products in 1,200 factories across 65 countries – is the official sponsor of Team GB, with footballers such as David Beckham tipped to join UK Olympic hopefuls Jessica Ennis and Christine Ohuruogu.

In March, Adidas unveiled its best-ever annual profits, reporting an 18% rise in net profits in 2011 to 671m euros ($881m; £559m).

In April media reports cited workers supplying Adidas in Indonesia receiving as little as 34 pence an hour, with some factories paying less than the minimum wage. Employees were verbally abused, slapped in the face and told to lie about their conditions during Adidas factory audits.

In May, research by the Playfair 2012 campaign found workers making Adidas goods being paid poverty wages and forced to work excessive overtime. The research found people in China working from 8am to 11pm. In Sri Lanka researchers found people being forced to work overtime in order to meet production targets. In the Philippines, more than half the workers interviewed said that in order to cover their basic needs they are forced to pawn their ATM cards to loan sharks for high-interest loans. At all of the factories researchers visited, workers reported that they were not paid a living wage that covers their basic needs.

Today, War on Want added its voice calling for an end to Adidas exploitation.

It is not only Adidas tat that is sourced from sweatshops. The official tat for the London 2012 Olympics is also sourced from sweatshops.

I am always amazed that anyone wastes their money on this overpriced tat. Fast fashion as opposed to slow fashion.

What a breath of fresh air, the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations that took place over the last four days, no corporate sponsorship.

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, John Carlos used his moment on the winner’s podium to make a stand for human rights. His gesture of resistance, as part of the civil rights movement, and in solidarity with those living under Apartheid in South Africa and blue collar workers in the States, is a defining moment in the struggle for equality, justice and peace.

That struggle still continues today. John Carlos has been touring the UK, speaking out.

The unwanted London 2012 Olympics will result in massive congestion in London, Olympic only traffic lanes, criminalisation of those who challenge the sponsoring brands, blocking of accounts on twitter …

London 2012 Olympics sweatshop misery

June 1, 2012

For Londoners, the London 2012 Olympics will be a summer of misery. Their misery is as nought to those working in the sweatshops who supply the goods.

Workers making Olympic sportswear for London 2012 for top brands and high street names including Adidas and Next are being paid poverty wages, forced to work excessive overtime and threatened with instant dismissal if they complain about working conditions.

A worker at an Adidas Olympics supplier factory in the Philippines, working on minimum wage for 10 years without a pay-rise:

We are forced to take overtime work so at least it supplements our take-home pay. Otherwise, how can I survive with such meagre income, how can I pay rent for the small room where I stay, cope with my daily necessities, and send some money for my family in the province? At the end of the day it is zero balance; there are no savings left for whatever uncertain things may happen to me and my family.

A few examples of the continued systematic and widespread exploitation of workers in sportswear factories:

  • Poverty wages were found across the board. In Sri Lanka, some workers have to survive on around £1.78 a day, little above the UN’s official poverty line, and only 25% of the amount needed for a living wage, enabling workers to live in dignity. In the Philippines, 50% of workers were forced to pawn their ATM cards to loan sharks for pay day loans to get them through the month.
  • Workers had legal benefits systematically denied to them by repeated use of short term contracts. Employers used these to avoid paying social insurance including pensions, sick leave and maternity benefits.
  • Workers were forced to perform overtime under threat of losing their jobs.
  • In all 10 factories there was no recognised union or credible workers’ representatives, meaning workers had no voice on pay and conditions. In China workers were threatened with job losses for distributing leaflets that could ‘hamper employer-employee relationships; and in the Philippines all workers interviewed said that they were scared to join a union as they would lose their jobs.
  • Living conditions showed the poverty levels experienced by workers. Chinese workers shared cramped and overcrowded rooms with hot water only available after 23:00, when their shift finished.

Those making the consumer junk, the mascots and toys, fare no better.

A worker at a Chinese sweatshop making London 2012 mascots:

Consumers may feel the Olypmic mascots are fun and cute, they will never think of the hard work, low wages…..we have in the factory.

A few examples of working conditions in two factories in China producing the Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Manderville, and London 2012 pin-badges:

  • Poverty pay, in some cases below the legal minimum, where workers were not paid enough to cover their most basic needs, and benefit payments for pensions and medical insurance were not paid in accordance with Chinese law. For example, a worker making an Olympic mascot could be paid as little as £26 a week, while a mascot can retail for around £20. An average living wage is around £225 a month.
  • Excessive overtime, sometimes up to 100 hours a month, nearly three times the legal limit in China. Some workers were doing 24-hour shifts, while others were working seven days a week. Overtime was often compulsory.
  • Child labour was used in the factory producing pin badges.
  • Workers were locked into a five-year contract and had to pay a fine if they tried to leave beforehand. At one factory, workers were not given a contract of employment, and in the other factory, workers did not receive pay-slips. In both factories, workers did not fully understand how their wages and over-time were calculated.
  • Workers did not receive health and safety training in both factories, and would tend to forgo wearing protective equipment, when provided, so they could work faster and earn more – to top up their poverty pay.
  • Workers were prevented from joining unions in both factories, and it was made clear to them that anyone engaging in trade union activities would be dismissed.
  • Evidence of audit fraud – with workers coached on how to answer auditor’s questions, and in some cases bribed to give the correct answers.

An ethical Olympics?

Slow fashion

March 31, 2012
slow fashion pledge

slow fashion pledge

Slow fashion is not a seasonal trend that comes and goes like animal print, but a sustainable fashion movement that is gaining momentum. — Jessica Bourland

Fast fashion is greed.

Fast fashion is exploitation.

Fast fashion is sweatshop factories, one factory pitted against another factory, one country pitted against another country.

Fast fashion externalises costs, destroys the environment.

Fast fashion is global corporations brainwashing sheep-like individuals that they must all look the same, dress the same, think the same.

Fast fashion is disposable clothes, wardrobes that must be emptied and replenished every four months.

Fast fashion, cheap clothes, clothes that are too cheap to repair, too cheap even to launder, come with a very high price tag.

Slow fashion is style.

Slow fashion is clothes we look good in.

Slow fashion is small artisan designers and dressmakers, who use natural materials.

Slow fashion is organic.

Slow fashion is Fair Trade

Slow fashion is taking unwanted clothes to charity shops to be recycled, buying clothes from charity shops.

Slow fashion is worth caring about, worth repairing, worth laundering.

Slow fashion treads lightly on the planet.

Slow fashion is sustainable.

‘Slow fashion’ was coined by Kate Fletcher. It has evolved from slow food, is part of the slow movement.

In The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho has a brilliant critique of fast fashion.

It is all about image, be it wearing the latest fashion or consuming a can of coke. We think we are in control of our own destiny, but we are not, we are being manipulated by con men.

Fashion. Whatever can people be thinking? Do they think fashion is something that changes according to the season of the year? Did they really come from all corners of the world to show off their dresses, their jewellery and their collection of shoes? They don’t understand. ‘Fashion’ is merely a way of saying: ‘I belong to your world. I’m wearing the same uniform as your army, so don’t shoot.’

Ever since groups of men and women first started living together in caves, fashion has been the only language everyone can understand, even complete strangers. ‘We dress in the same way. I belong to your tribe. Let’s gang up on the weaklings as a way of surviving.’

But some people believe that ‘fashion’ is everything. Every six months, they spend a fortune changing some tiny detail in order to keep up their membership of the very exclusive tribe of the rich. If they were to visit Silicon Valley, where the billionaires of the IT industry wear plastic watches and beat-up jeans, they would understand that the world has changed; everyone now seems to belong to the same social class; no one cares any more about the size of a diamond or the make of a tie or a leather briefcase. In fact, ties and leather briefcases don’t even exist in that part of the world; nearby, however, is Hollywood, a relatively more powerful machine – albeit in decline – which still manages to convince the innocent to believe in haute-couture dresses, emerald necklaces and stretch limos. And since this is what still appears in all the magazines, who would dare destroy a billion-dollar industry involving advertisements, the sale of useless objects, the invention of entirely unnecessary new trends, and the creation of identical face creams all bearing different labels?

How perverse! Just when everything seems to be in order and as families gather round the table to have supper, the phantom of the Superclass appears, selling impossible dreams: luxury, beauty, power. And the family falls apart.

The father works overtime to be able to buy his son the latest trainers because if his son doesn’t have a pair, he’ll be ostracised at school. The wife weeps in silence because her friends have designer clothes and she has no money. Their adolescent children, instead of learning the real values of faith and hope, dream only of becoming singers or movie stars. Girls in provincial towns lose any real sense of themselves and start to think of going to the big city, prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to get a particular piece of jewellery. A world that should be directed towards justice begins instead to focus on material things, which, in six months’ time, will be worthless and have to be replaced, and that is how the whole circus ensures that the despicable creatures gathered together in Cannes remain at the top of the heap.

What are people buying into, what are they paying a high price for? It is not the designer on the label as the design will have been by a young designer who wants out to set up his own label. It will have not even have been made by the company, it will have come from some Third World sweatshop, a dollar or less at the factory gate, one hundred dollars or more retail. All that people are paying for is the label, the brand name.

Not to be confused with buying real luxury, quality, for example a Montegrappa pen made by craftsmen, for when we buy something of quality, we tend to cherish it and keep it for life.

Top Story in Lemondade (Sunday 1 April 2010).

Montegrappa launch The Alchemist pen
Disposable clothes
Killer Jeans
What is Slow Fashion?
Slow fashion
‘Slow fashion’ is a must-have … and not just for this season
Slow it Down: Fast Fashion vs. Slow Fashion
Perfect Purses
The Story of Stuff

Killer Jeans

April 12, 2011

Bangladesh young sandblasting worker with no protective clothing

How distressed is your denim?

Jeans are sandblasted to get that instant, stonewashed, worn look.

Sandblasting kills!

The killer process of sandblasting is risking the lives of thousands of workers around the world today.

Sandblasting causes a slow and painful death!

Over 550 Turkish workers working in sandblasting have been diagnosed with silicosis, a usually fatal lung disease caused by breathing in silicon dust. 46 workers have already died. An estimated 5,000 workers are effected.

Sandblasting has been banned in Turkey, but the practice is widespread in sweatshops around the world.

The clothing industry must implement a worldwide ban on sandblasting, to refuse to buy jeans and denim that has been sandblasted.

Armani, ASDA George, Debenhams, Dolce & Gabana, Matalan and River Island have yet to commit to banning sandblasting and eliminating it from their production. ASDA even advertise sandblasted jeans for sale on their websites.

Please tell them to ban sandblasting with immediate effect and save the lives of their workers.

But a ban, which looks good on paper, is not enough. They must monitor the situation, they must compensate those workers who have suffered industrial injury and disease through the use of sandblasting, provide free medical checks and treatment.

Killer Jeans Campaign
Killer Jeans – Manifesto to end sandblasting

Asia Floor Wage

November 24, 2009

The idea behind the Asia Floor Wage is to create a basic living wage across Asian countries. This is to counteract the race to the bottom by companies like Primark, who put pressure not only on individual factories but also on the countries where the factory is located. If the factory owners do not lower their factory gate prices, which translates to lower wages, longer working hours, then the buyers simply source elsewhere. Factory competes against factory, country against country, profits go up, wages and working conditions go down, or in other words the classic race to the bottom.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a large coalition of unions and labour organisations spread across Asia, is supported in the West by trade unions and NGOs and anti-sweatshop movements such as Labour Behind the Label and War on Want.

The Asia floor wage, ie a living wage, should provide sufficient for food costs and non-food costs of a standard family of 2 adults and 2 children. The wage should be earned during each country’s legal maximum working week, though not above 48 hours.

Please support Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops

http://www.lovefashionhatesweatshops.org

See

Asia Floor Wage

Stitching a decent Wage across boarders

Primark – the high cost of cheap fashion

Fruit of the Loom Campaign VICTORY!

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