Who made your clothes? That is the question we are raising for us all to consider. Was it workers paid at least the minimum wage in clean and decent conditions? Or was it people subject to modern slavery, paid a pittance, working in cramped and unhealthy conditions, living in fear for their livelihoods in insecure casual work? Could that happen even in Britain?
Traidcraft Says that modern slavery is alive and well in the fashion industry. At least that’s what leading lights in the fashion industry themselves argued in 2019 in evidence to a Select Committee of MPs: the luxury goods brand Burberry said:
“We take the view that the labour and environmental standards in certain countries are not sufficient for us to have confidence that our standards can be adhered to. Therefore, we have a strong policy around countries from which we will not source our finished products. These countries include; Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia and Myanmar.”
Even if we buy our clothes in Britain, can we be sure that workers are paid properly for their work and not treated as modern slaves after the Leicestershire garment workers scandal at the start of the Covid19 pandemic this year?
The Centre for Social Justice reports that media investigations into a spike in cases in Leicester exposed £3.50-an-hour labourers, some of them exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, packed into overcrowded buildings without proper ventilation or hygiene measures. Workers’ fears of contracting COVID-19, passing it onto their families and the possible resultant deaths outweighed their fear of reprisals from employers.
In our club we have been tracking down the credentials of clothes we have bought recently. We have asked retailers for the way they enforce their anti-slavery policy as a way to hold them to account for the conditions in their factories. We have had positive responses from those we have contacted.
To mark Anti-Slavery day on 18th October we are supporting Anti-Slavery and continuing this campaign. We are asking whether the machinists who make our clothes made in Britain are paid more than £3 an hour?
If you want to support us, please share this picture on your social media and spread the word – let’s stamp out modern slavery together.