Fair Trade and the Living Wage29 April 2014
At Gaeia, we know that if cheap clothes are in the UK for sale, people will buy them (& lots of them). It is partly our Government’s responsibility to hold companies to account who are not paying a local Living Wage in the countries where they operate or obtain goods and services.
There is also a key role here for Responsible Shareholders, to insist that profits are not at the expense of poverty wages, and are only derived from a labour chain where all have the ability to feed their families, at the very least. See ShareAction’s website for more information about this important topic: www.shareaction.org
The anniversary of the Rana Plaza Bangladeshi factory collapse has hit the headlines this week – many are reminding us of the tragedy and keeping the campaign for fair working conditions going, including War on Want who comment: “All workers who produce clothes for the UK high street should be guaranteed safe working conditions and a living wage.”
Fair Trade clothing need not cost any more, as much research has shown that charging only an additional penny or two per garment here in the UK, would enable workers to be paid a local Living Wage. If the movement to consume more fairly and pay a living wage can become more widespread, this will in turn spread global wealth more fairly. For more information, see www.labourbehindthelabel.org or www.cleanclothes.org.
Who does it benefit, if a few companies make large profits, while encouraging UK consumers to buy the cheapest goods possible, and ripping off overseas workers? The practice of poverty wages creates a working poor, ultimately affecting us all, and is being seen more and more here in the UK too.
To take action and show your support, join the War on Want campaign, to communicate to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, as minister responsible for the UK government’s business and human rights action plan, that we care and that action needs to be taken.
Olivia Bowen, writing in a personal capacity.