Sunday, September 02, 2007

Marks & Spencer, GAP and Mothercare in the dock.....

over paying slave labour wages to "sweatshop" workers in developing countries. So claims Karen McVeigh in today's Guardian newspaper.

"Two of Britain's major high street retailers launched inquiries last night into allegations that factory workers who make their clothes in India are being paid as little as 13p per hour for a 48-hour week, wages so low the workers claim they sometimes have to rely on government food parcels.

Primark, the UK's second biggest clothing retailer, and the Mothercare, the mother and baby shop, were responding to a Guardian investigation into the pay and conditions of workers in Bangalore, India, who supply several high-profile UK and US fashion brands".

13p an hour is pretty awful. The article continues.......

The investigation, which follows our report in July in which Primark, Asda and Tesco were accused of breaching international labour standards in Bangladesh, has uncovered a catalogue of allegations of Dickensian pay and conditions in factories owned by exporters who supply clothes to the UK. India's largest ready-made clothing exporter, Gokaldas Export, which supplies brands including Marks & Spencer, Mothercare and H&M, confirmed that wages paid to garment workers were as low as £1.13 for a nine-hour day. This fails to meet their basic needs, according to factory workers and Indian unions and so falls below the minimum international labour standards promised by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a code of conduct which sets out basic rights for employees across the supply chain. Marks & Spencer is a member of the ETI, as are Mothercare, Gap and Primark.

Garment workers for factories owned by exporters who supply to Gap, Matalan and Primark, told the Guardian they were paid similar wages and regularly forced to work overtime of between six and 18 hours per week. The ETI code states that workers shall not regularly be required to work more than 48 hours per week, that overtime should be voluntary and that it should not exceed 12 hours per week..................................

Employees of factories owned by exporters who supply Gap and Matalan claimed they were often made to work extra hours without pay to meet unattainable production targets.

One worker, a tailor who makes clothes for Gap, told the Guardian she was dismissed after being off work for more than 15 days due to illness. Texport Overseas denies this.

John Hilary from War on Want (not them again), said: "Exploitation of workers in developing countries such as India is standard practice for British retailers right across the spectrum. This just underlines the urgent need for Gordon Brown to step in now and stop these abuses once and for all."

and what exactly is Gordon going to do about this do you suppose?

Jeremy Jacobs - Corporate Presenter


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

He'll huff, puff and do nothing, I imagine.

Anonymous said...

There is a range of products that came from Madagascar currently being retailed at the fourth largest department store in the UK. Actually, there is nothing wrong with the products themselves as they were manufactured to the highest possible standard by a small and old cottage factory that provides a cushion against the darkness of hunger and starvation to 250 extremely poor families in Antananarivo.We have all heard about buyers squeezing suppliers on price but what follows must be the jewel on the crown. The products were ordered and taken possession of last year by a London-based buyer, and todate the factory has not been paid a single penny despite the fact that this buyer is being begged on a daily basis.