Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Debi Alper has some worthwhile (as always) thoughts on slavery in modern times. Which has had me thinking, not least because of a heart-wrenching documentary on child slavery shown last night on the BBC. Rageh Omaar reported on the approximately 8.4 million child slaves alive today - you can watch it here if you missed it.

Scaling the sides of my soapbox (as I regularly do!): one teeny tiny place to start, if you feel you'd like to do something, but don't know where to start; Ethical Consumer reports:
Approximately 75% of the world’s footballs are produced in the Sialkot district of Pakistan for export to the world’s markets. In the build-up to the 1998 World Cup in France, studies by groups like Save the Children brought to attention the fact that children were involved in the stitching of footballs. As a result, most major brands have taken steps to ensure that children are no longer involved. Unfortunately, some of the steps taken have reduced the income of families in Sialkot. Some production is being moved to China, where particularly lower quality balls are increasingly being part-produced by machines. Another measure has been the concentration of stitching in larger factory units, which can necessitate longer commuting times and can make part-time stitching by women less easy.
You can help to change that by buying beautifully crafted, fairly traded footballs from www.fairdealtrading.co.uk (and they've got a new line of sneakers too).

‘Fashion Victims’, a recent report by War on Want, found "that workers in Bangladesh are regularly working 80 hours a week for just 5p an hour to produce cheap clothes for British consumers of Primark, Tesco and Asda’s ‘George’ range". And before all you Americans out there dismiss these as British companies, may I remind you that Asda is owned by Walmart, so you may wish to scrutinize prices and compare them with realistic production and transportation costs. Their website continues:
Primark, Tesco and Asda have given their commitment to fair treatment for suppliers’ workers. But employees interviewed for War on Want’s report said their managers had been given prior notice of these companies’ social audits, and workers themselves had been bullied by their bosses to lie about their pay, hours and safety.

Louise Richards, Chief Executive of War on Want, said: “Bargain retailers such as Primark, Asda and Tesco are only able to sell at rock bottom prices in the UK because women workers in Bangladesh are being exploited.
You can download the full report from the War on Want site, and read more related material on the site Labour Behind the Label.

Hopping down from the soapbox...


Blogger Debi said...

Thanks for the link and your equally worthwhile and thoughtful post.

Re cheap clothes - it's tricky. I confess I do get most of the children's clothes at Primark, even though I'm aware how they get to be so cheap. But even with hand-me-downs and jumble sales there are always gaps. If you're on a limited income your choices are also limited.

But you're absolutely right to point it out so that people who do have choices can make the ethical ones.

8:43 am  
Blogger equiano said...

Debi, you're absolutely correct to point out that those on limited incomes have equally limited choices. I guess what I was trying to do here was inform those of us who don't spend much time thinking about where our purchases come from and spend freely, that there are consumer choices to be made out there, and people behind the products.

9:11 am  

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