Time Flies…

11 06 2009

As you all are probably aware by now, I haven’t updated this blog within well over a year.

This wasn’t intentional and my fight for equality within the fashion sphere is still well under way.

Not only do I tell everyone I meet about the injustices people suffer for us to gain cheap clothes, I no longer shop at clothing outlets such as Primark and am still supporting causes such as EveryClick.

Yet, while I may not post news to you all, I do hope that I have been able to enlighten you all a little to carry out your own campaigns.

At the moment I am currently working on a variety of websites such as:


I do hope to get the time to carry on this blog in future, but for now, I feel it deserves a well-earned rest!


Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts

19 04 2008

What are you doing next Tuesday – April 22, 2008 – at 9pm? If the answer to this question is “nothing” then I would implore you to make a date with your television and watch the four-part documentary on BBC Three entitled Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts.

According to the BBC Three website, the programme will involve taking young fashion addicts and shop-a-holics from England to India, in order to learn about where the clothes that they purchase are made.

Six young fashion addicts experience life as factory workers in India, making clothes for the British high street. In this four-part series, the six work in the mills of India’s cotton belt and stitch clothes in cramped back rooms, sleeping next to their sewing machine. See how it changes their attitudes to cut-price clothing.

The six participants in India
(Copyright: BBC)

Among the six fashion conscious 20-somethings include: Georgina, 20, a telesales executive that believes wearing clothes once and then chucking them away is acceptable, Mark, 24, an account manager that likes to dress to impress and Tara, 21, who wants to become a fashion designer.

So don’t forget to put this date into your diary; find out more information by clicking here.

Money, Money, Money

17 04 2008

Since starting this blog I feel that I have become more of an ‘activist’ as such, due to the fact that I have tried in numerous ways to try and highlight how we, as a Western society, affect those working in sweatshops in exploitative conditions; the ways in which we can change this.

One way in which I have been helping those affected is by using the search engine EveryClick – a search engine with a difference.

Even though I have already discussed EveryClick in a previous blog post, I just feel that it is vital to highlight to all of you the immense amount of good that the programme has done so far.

If any of you need a small reminder what EveryClick is, then here one is! EveryClick is simply a search engine just like any other out there – Google, Yahoo etc: – however what makes its different is that through using it you can raise money for many different charities.

The revenue for EveryClick is generated by advertisers who pay for sponsored listings within the search results and banner advertising. Therefore the more people that use EveryClick, the more the advertisers’ listings are clicked and the more money is raised for charity. Over one half of all the revenue EveryClick generates each month is given to charity.

(Copyright: EveryClick)

To this day, EveryClick has raised £428,906.94 through 111,811 different people; £123.54 has been raised for ActionAid and£439.33 for War On Want.

This may not seem like a great deal of money, however one must consider that in fact it is, since it all has been generated merely through searching the Internet, which is quite an easy and hassle-free task!

Yet, we can all do more to help raise these values, as the more money these charities gain, the more resources they can create and distribute, to ultimately make a difference.

As EveryClick works the same way as normal search engines, then why don’t you make EveryClick your default search engine?

If I have tempted you to sign up, and I hope that I have, then click here.

“We Are A Rock Revolving…

13 04 2008

Around a golden sun
We are a billion children
Rolled into one”

Saltwater – Julian Lennon

Last week in my sociology lecture I started to learn about the process of globalisation and how we are all one entity, yet all experience different degrees of inequality. After I came across a definition made by a sociologist, I began to realise how the issues relating to sweatshops are a direct consequence of such a phenomenon.

“Globalisation is the process of understanding interconnectedness between societies, such that events in one part of the world have effects on peoples and societies far away.”
Smith (1997)

This definition certainly can relate to sweatshops, since the removal of barriers in time and space combined with new technology, such as the Internet, has helped to make it easier for transnational corporations (TNCs) to produce and transport goods almost anywhere in the world.

War On Want’s Globalisation in the Garment Sector is particularly good at highlighting how globalisation has had an impact on companies producing goods in sweatshops, since even though the definition made by Smith can be interpreted to mean that the events made by Western companies can affect those in Eastern countries, it can also be seen in another way – Western companies can affect those living and working in Western countries, such as England, too!

I know that throughout this blog I have mainly focused on how the exploitation of workers in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) occurs, however in light of globalisation and its impact on the entire world, it is only right to also mention how exploitation in More Economically Developed Countries (MEDCs) occurs too.

For one, one must consider that United Kingdom garment sector wages are not high, due to the fact that they are 28% lower for men and 14% lower for women, in terms of the national average wage for United Kingdom manufacturing industries.

Moreover, there seems to be a growth in sweatshops in the United Kingdom. Evidence for this can be seen by a BBC Watchdog programme from April 2000 which explored the lives of women working in a factory producing Olympia garments in Leicester. The programme spoke to a woman who said she had been locked in the factory until she finished her order, and received £2.75 per hour, compared to the £3.70 average. Once the woman confronted her employer she was fired; from this it is right to think that if exploitation in United Kingdom is occurring, then the amount of exploitation that is occurring in other parts of the world is surely greater.

Globalisation – Is its impact positive or negative?
(Copyright: Arabesques)

However is all bad with globalisation? Even though many corporations have re-located from the United Kingdom and other Western countries, the growth of the garment industry has transformed the lives of workers in the developing world. Even though the wages that these people gain may look poor compared to our own, they have certainly represented radical news ways of living, especially for women. Lipi, a Bangladeshi garment worker, has managed to escape rural poverty, has been able to earn her very own wage as well as make independent decisions relating to her everyday life. Regarding this matter she stated: “Before joining the factory I was very timid but now I have some confidence. I’m working in the city and at night I can go out. I even participate in demonstrations sometimes.”

However is it really that simple? Of course it isn’t! Even though garment workers may have a new lease of life, this is only made possible through working very long hours below subistence wages and in conditions which endanger their health.

Another negative impact relating to globalisation can be seen with the process called ‘the race to the bottom.’ Before, corporations could not move around from country-to-country to find the cheapest labour available, due to the fact that this would mean the corporation would have to buy and sell all of their properties, i.e. factories, the machinery, as well as having responsibility to re-locate all of the workers from the factories.

Tin Shacks – The only form of shelter that many Bangladeshi garment workers can actually afford
(Copyright: War On Want)

Through globalisation however, corporations have begun to increasingly use sub-contracts. These contracts are short term and enable the corporations to ask local factory owners to supply the company with only a certain amount of goods. At the end of the contract, the corporation can either create another one, or if cheaper labour can be found elsewhere, then the corporation will ultimately move on and use another factory instead. Using this method certainly means that the corporation does not have to improve the working or living conditions of the employees or raise the wages that are paid to them, due to the fact that they are not fixed to one residence; this is certainly exploitation and unjust!

To put this into context, a typical chain might be the following: a United Kingdom retailer contracts a buyer in Hong Kong to supply an order. The buyer then makes a contract with a South Korean-owned factory in Bangladesh to make the clothes, while the cloth itself comes from Malaysia. This complex chain means that the retailer will never see the factories in which the goods are made.

An inequality in wealth can be seen as another negative side of globalisation. The Garment Workers’ Project has claimed that in the last 25 years alone, the total number of jobs in the United Kingdom clothing and textile industry has fallen from 1,000,000 to around 300,000. The main reason for this can be explained through outsourcing and the massive disparity in wage levels worldwide. In industrialised countries, labour costs may form 75 per cent of the total costs of a garment, while in Bangladesh, the figure is as low as five per cent; the graph below conveys the difference in wages:

(Copyright: War On Want)

Export-Processing Zones can also be regarded as a negative consequence of globalisation. Export-Processing Zones are also named as Free Trade Areas and are used by countries to tempt transnational corporations to source there, all through incentives. For example, the Bangladeshi Export-Processing Zone offers zero taxes, 100 per cent repatriation of profits and exemption from many national laws, such as the freedom to organise trade unions. While these incentives may woo the transnational corporations, they ultimately have a knock-on effect on the actual workers themselves, so what can we do as consumers?

Well, the first thing we can do is to write letters to our local newspapers. The more people that we get to read about this issue, then the greater opportunity for other people to get active and to help out. This can also be the case with writing articles and creating webpages, such as this one!

Secondly, putting pressure onto your local politician can help out a lot. You may think that local politicians may have little effect on international labour standards, however the more constituents that write to them regarding this issue, the greater the chance that they will bring it up in parliamentary meetings, due to it being a ‘hot topic’ issue amount the constituents.

Lastly, put pressure onto the actual transnational corporations themselves! Link up with campaign groups on the Internet, such as War On Want’s campaign, since unified action against the transnational corporations can and will make a difference!

Sweat, Sweat, Sweat

5 04 2008

Going on holiday frequently appears to be the norm for many, however instead of sunning in Spain it seems that cruises have become more commonplace, due to Lloyds Register World Fleet Statistics reporting an increase of over 700 Per Cent from 1980-2001.

The image of a cruise holiday is sold to people under the guise of being fun, magic, romantic and luxurious; this is also accompanied by the comfort of knowing that every whim will be met by willing crew members. Yet, such a picture-perfect view of cruises is also given to the employees, since many are often excited by the thought of working for world-famous cruise ships, such as Disney or Carnival, which will allow them to ‘see the world’ and earn money at the same time. However is this picture really the reality?

From reading War On Want and the International Transport Workers Federation’s report entitled Sweatships, I would definitely have to say that it isn’t, since in a nut shell, the following is happening behind-the-scenes of your cruise holiday:

* Extremely long working hours,
* Inadequate training, especially in the sphere of health and safety,
* Insecure, short-term contracts which leaves the employees without a stable job and living prospects, since they can be sacked at any time,
* Hostile employers that forbid collective solidarity of the workers. This, in reality, is illegal, since every worker has the right to belong or form a Trade Union,
* Low wages and high costs that leaves the employees in continuous poverty. This, combined with the illegal agents’ fees to get the people the actual jobs traps the employees into poverty even more.

If any of the above has not shocked you, then do read on, since it seems like this is just the tip of the iceberg!

“A ship owner can go any place in the world, pick up anybody he wants, on almost any terms. If the owner wants to maximize profit at the expense of people, it’s a piece of cake… It’s a sweatshop at sea.”
(Paul Chapman, founder of the Centre for Seafarers’ Rights in New York, May 2000)

The picture-perfect vision of a cruise holiday
(Copyright: CruiseVacations4U)

For one, there seems to be an apparent segregated labour force, with the division occurring not only by country-to-country and nationality, but also by the colour of one’s skin. The investigation found that by-and-large higher status employees come from industrialised countries and are able to enjoy more benefits, such as having a cabin above water-line, sharing with no more than two people, being able to eat at the restaurants that they work at and having access to passenger facilities, such as Internet Cafes.

Even though this done sound reasonably good, a high proportion of employees never get to see this, as they are forced to work below decks and face disciplinary action if they go above water-line. Many of these workers are from Eastern European countries and are made to eat leftover food. The majority of them also have small cabins that are shared by dozens of other workers, which is hardly fair compared to the lifestyle of the other workers.

This trend can be illustrated by a Carnival cruise ship manifest from 2000, due to the following segregation employment patterns:

* Engine Room: 39 men, mostly from Peru, Uruguay, Philippines and Romania.
* Cabin stewards: 46 men from Asia and Central America.
* Master/Marine Officers/Engineers: Mainly from Italy.
* Managers/Directors/Supervisors: Mainly from America.

Further discrimination is also present on cruise ships, however this time in terms of gender; this is highlighted particularly well by a Lithuanian worker that worked in Reception on the Ocean Glory. She told the investigation how the Purser’s cabins door was tellingly left open during their work-related meetings and how he put pressure onto her to sleep with him or “he couldn’t guarantee what might happen.”

The cruise ship in question – the Ocean Glory
(Copyright: SimplonPC)

Working hours also seem to be similar to those who ‘work’ in sweatshops, due to bar waiters, for example, being forced to work up to 15 hours per day. If this does not seem a lot to you, then imagine being forced to work overtime, for free, for hours and hours doing menial tasks after a 15 hour long shift. You certainly would be exhausted considering that you would be working weeks at a time without no breaks. Wouldn’t you be prone to exhaustion and fatigue? I imagine that you would!

Yet the poor treatment of cruise ship employees does not stop there, and is present through Cherie’s story. Cherie Scrivener, 19 years old, from Australia, worked as a beauty therapist on one of Carnival’s large ships entitled Triumph. It set sail from Miami, yet after just three weeks Cherie’s life was turned upside down.

Cherie Scrivener
(Copyright: War On Want/ITF – Sweatships)

A door closed on her foot and severed her Achilles tendon. Instead of being helped by members of staff from the cruise ship, Cherie was bundled off the ship with only one change of clothes, $300 and a scrap piece of paper with information on about the nearest hospital. She’d been sacked.

You may think that this may just have been one isolated incident, however it is happening right now all over the world. So, what can we do to prevent such incidents from happening? Well…

1) Read more about sweatships by clicking here.

2) If you are going on a cruise, then make sure the company you go with recognises trade union organisations. Do this by writing to them.

3) If you are going on a cruise and see any injustices, take action!

4) Put pressure on cruise ship companies by writing to them. A downloadable letter can be printed off at the GlobalWorkplace website.

Pledge Your Loyalty!

29 03 2008

Many of you may be thinking that the issue of exploitation and sweatshops may not be high on the agenda for the Britsh media industry, however you would be wrong.

Just last week, ThisIsLondon.co.uk reported on how the opening of an American fashion giant’s first UK store in Regent Street, Banana Republic, had been disrupted by protesters. The disruption occured due to claims that garment workers in India making Banana Republic’s clothes are being forced to work more than 70 hours a week for as little as 15p an hour.

With more and more news articles being reported like this everyday, how can we, as consumers, help reduce the impact that our consumption habits play?

Well one way in which you can help is by pledging your loyalty.

While I was browsing the Internet I came across a campaign of ActionAids, that I have already mentioned in a previous newspost actually, entitled Who Pays? Pledge Your Loyalty.

(Copyright: ActionAid)

Through signing up to this campaign you will be pledging to the following:

Many people around the world who produce goods for UK supermarkets endure exploitation and poverty.I want Government regulation to tackle this problem so I know no-one has suffered producing the goods I buy.

Once you have signed up you will gain 300 loyalty points with the chance to earn more and more, simply through campaigning about this issue in a variety of ways.

Campaign options include downloading campaign posters and distributing them to others (500 points), answering poll questions on related topical issues (150 points) to even digitally dressing up like a banana, in order to spread the word to family and friends (1000 points).

Once enough points have been created you can then spend them on items such as ecologically-friendly bags.

So what are you waiting for? Pledge your loyalty like I have done and spread the word today!

Every Click Helps!

24 03 2008

I realise that with many of my previous blog posts I have mentioned how we, as consumers, can do our part to reduce the exploitation in sweatshops that occurs all around the world, however in reality this may not be enough and instead of changing your shoppng habits it will merely be food for thought.

Even though I hope that many of you have started to atleast think about the ways in which your shopping routines can have consequences for others, I would also like to make you all aware of ways, that are free, in which you can help with this cause, simply at a click of a mouse; the website which allows you to do this is EveryClick.

(Copyright: EveryClick)

EveryClick is simply a search engine just like any other out there – Google, Yahoo etc: – however what makes its different is that through using it you can raise money for many different charities.

For those of you who have alarm bells ringing with the word ‘free,’ do not fret! Revenue is generated by advertisers who pay for sponsored listings within EveryClick’s search results and banner advertising, therefore the more people who use EveryClick, the more the advertisers’ listings are clicked and the more money is raised for charity.

Half of EveryClick’s revenue is allocated to charity each month.

You can even select the charities that you would like to raise money for, such as the ones I have already mentioned: ActionAid and War On Want.

If you would like to do your part, just like I have started doing, then sign-up by clicking here.