Fast fashion abuses close to home but not really news
22 July 2020
In the light of our showing of the film 'The True Cost' last November and the recent publicity surrounding employment abuses in garment sweatshops in Leicester, it seems appropriate to draw attention to an article pointing out that these and similar abuses closer to home than we normally imagine have been known about and reported on for years, and noting the pressure put on suppliers by big clothing brands to cut prices - with all the consequences for employment conditions which that implies - or go out of business.
In the London Review of Books blog of 20 July 2020, Olivia Windham Stewart writes
The appalling state of working conditions in the Leicester garment industry has been known for at least a decade. Channel 4’s Dispatches broadcast an investigation in 2010 that revealed all the trademarks of endemic exploitation: pay at half the minimum wage; dangerous and unsanitary conditions; harassment and abuse. In 2015, the Ethical Trading Initiative commissioned research that found significant under or non-payment of wages; excessive working hours; a captive, vulnerable and exploited workforce; absence of contracts; egregious health and safety violations.
Dispatches aired a follow-up documentary in 2017, with many of the same findings. There was nuanced, forensic analysis in the Financial Times in 2018. The Joint Committee on Human Rights conducted an investigation in 2017 and ensured it received attention during the Environmental Audit Committee hearings in 2019. The EAC published some straightforward recommendations. The government did nothing.
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