Redgrave plea for sweatshop workers

28 February 2012 - 4:36pm
Press release

Star marks fire with BBC radio charity appeal

NEWS PEG Sunday, 4 March 2012: Vanessa Redgrave broadcasts appeal for workers making clothes for UK stores

Only days after the anniversary of a Bangladeshi garment factory blaze which claimed 21 lives, one of the world's greatest actors is to make a heartfelt appeal for people in Britain to help workers battle for better conditions.

Vanessa Redgrave recording our appeal

Vanessa Redgrave, who has just won the best actress prize at the Whatsonstage awards for her Driving Miss Daisy role in London's West End, will urge BBC Radio 4 listeners to support the anti-poverty charity War on Want.

Redgrave, a longtime War on Want donor, will tell the station's audience on Sunday (4 March) that workers producing clothes for UK high street chains toil 80-hour weeks for just 15p an hour.

She will describe the life of Yasmina, a typical female employee – women represent most garment workers – sewing flat out to make sweaters that will sell in British stores for more than her whole month's pay.

Redgrave, a Oscar nominee for her part in the film Coriolanus, will say: "You're desperate for the toilet, but not allowed a break. Your boss comes over, slaps you round the face and shouts at you to work faster to meet his production target. For Yasmina in Bangladesh, this is the harsh reality, forced to leave school because her family were too poor to pay for her education."

The appeal follows the second anniversary last Saturday of a fire which killed 21 workers and injured 50 others turning out jumpers for H&M in the Garib & Garib factory at Gazipur, 30 miles north of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

In little more than a decade 239 Bangladeshi workers have died in garment factory accidents.

Redgrave says: "Last year, with War on Want's help, garment workers in Bangladesh won a 60 per cent increase in their minimum wage. For Yasmina this offers the hope of an education for her children. But there are thousands of women still facing long hours, unsafe conditions and often cheated out of their pay. So, with your support, War on Want can help more women like Yasmina to a better life."

Redgrave says five pounds, ten pounds – any donation – can make a big difference. Thirty pounds could pay to train workers like Yasmina, giving them the information and skills they need to negotiate better pay and decent conditions. One hundred pounds can pay legal fees to take action against abusive employers.

Duncan Wilbur, the charity's fundraising and communications director, said: "Millions of people like Vanessa share our concern that workers producing the clothes we buy pay a terrible price in poverty wages and grim conditions. We hope many listeners will support the appeal to help them build a brighter future for their families."

The Radio 4 Appeal for War on Want will be broadcast at 7.55 am on 4 March, repeated at 9.26 pm that day and at 3.27 pm the following Thursday.

After the appeal, for a week people can make a donation on the Radio 4 website at Donations can also be made by calling 0800 404 8144 or sending a cheque, payable to War on Want, to Freepost BBC Radio 4 Appeal, marked War on Want on the back of the envelope.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728


A Living Wage for Workers

The right to be paid a living wage is a basic entitlement of all working people the world over, whether they work in the public or private sectors, in the global South or North.

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