Monday, November 8, 2010

British Sweatshops

The Malaysian Insider yesterday carried a report that the government had indeed taken action against the three civil servants who spat out racist remarks against the country’s Chinese and Indian communities. The BTN official (his story in my posting dated October 05) received a warning as well as a suspension from his duties as of October 06 while the two school principals (their stories in my posting dated August 22) have also been likewise suspended and have been put on desk duty at the state education departments in Johor and Kuala Muda as of August 23, at least according to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz. He added that there were no plans to charge them for sedition as the government believed that the racist remarks made were not intended to “incite” hatred towards other races. After all, to err is human. I still say, it’s a wee slap on the wrist! Oh well, I bet you there will be other similar incidents soon enough…

One of the alleged sweatshops filmed by an undercover reporter in the UK.
Photo credit: UK’s Channel 4

UK’s The Independent has informed readers that clothing on sale in the high street is being made in UK sweatshops! Yes, surprise, surprise! We are not talking about the Third World but a First World country called Britain. According to secret television footage, a Channel 4 investigative reporter found dangerous and pressurized sweatshop conditions; pay at half the legal minimum wage; workers exhorted to work faster under threat of the sack; cramped and over-heated conditions with unsanitary toilets and at least one blocked fire exit; plus the fact that workers’ identity and legality was also not checked.

For three months, this reporter worked undercover in workshops in Leicester, stitching garments for British retail chains: Bhs (owned by billionaire retailer Philip Green who is advising UK Prime Minister David Cameron on public sector “efficiency” savings), New Look, Peacocks, C&A and Jane Norman. And all of the companies, with the exception of Jane Norman, are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative, which has a code of conduct aimed at preventing abuses of workers, or they have their own supplier codes of conducts.

UK buyers wish to buy high street fashion at low prices, but really, what is the actual human cost that they are paying? Shameful!

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