Sunday, 9 January 2011

Guest post by Christine McLaughlin - Take Action Against Unfair Sweatshops Now

Do you care enough about ending the scandal of sweatshop labour to take three simple actions?

Sweatshop fashion contravenes human rights in the most poignant way: millions of people in developing countries live a life of unremitting misery - why? In order to provide us with a constant flow of 'affordable' fashion.

Estimates vary, but it is generally agreed that hundreds of millions of workers are caught in the sweatshop trap. A good proportion of these are children. Human rights are set aside and the misery of long hours and starvation wages is a fact of life for many millions of people, including children. In Bangladesh, for example, many workers are subjected to 16 hour days with minimal breaks and little attention given to providing a safe working environment.

We, the consumers, fund this situation and we can take control. I am suggesting three simple actions you can take in the next five minutes from wherever you are now:

1. Sign my 'Fashion Needs Compassion' pledge

If ten of us cut back on new clothes this year by 10%, that equates to one person not buying any new clothes at all. If ten million of us cut back on new clothes by 10%, that equates to one million people turning their backs on sweatshop fashion.

2. Write a letter/ email

Does your favoured clothing retailer use sweatshops? Write and ask them how they ensure that no child or forced labour is used in their factories; no worker is subjected to violence or discrimination; fair wages are paid; reasonable working hours are adhered to; Trade Unions are allowed and a clean, safe and healthy work environment is provided.

Who to write to? War on Want recently shamed a few high street names and a Dispatches documentary last year uncovered illegal sweatshop labour in Leicester, producing clothes for billionaire ‘Sir’ Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which include BHS, Peacocks and New Look.

I run my own clothing line, Fairly Organic Folk, and if I can manage to ensure all of the above, surely Sir Philip, who is advising David Cameron on ‘efficiency savings’, can do the same. Nice choice, Dave, by the way.

3. Shop for Victory

An easy one: there are hundreds of retailers of sweatshop-free clothing and now is a good time to start shopping with them because it’s sale time. You can find links to their sites here and here. I’m not saying you should start shopping right now: just bookmark both pages, then you know where they are when you need them, yes?

This has been a guest post by Fairly Organic Folk because Indygal has not been well and was too weak to post her own blog or to refuse when I suggested doing this. She is, however, rapidly recovering from her monster flu bug so if you want to read more of my wise words you are going to have to visit my website, follow me on Twitter, or join my fanpage on Facebook.

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