Satire condemns 'sweatshop' brands

23 June 2010 - 11:11am
Press release

Films make case for supermarket watchdog

Campaigners today step up their drive for a watchdog to prevent supermarkets abusing suppliers' workers by launching new films which satirise overseas sweatshops.

The films come from War on Want, the anti-poverty charity which has published research which showed workers making clothes in Bangladesh for Tesco and Asda earned as little as 7p an hour for up to 80-hour weeks.

War on Want senior campaigns officer, Simon McRae, said: “These films parody the abuse suffered by overseas workers producing goods for British supermarkets. But the reality is that these workers' shameful pay and conditions are beyond a joke. The government must set up an independent ombudsman to stop UK supermarkets exploiting their foreign suppliers' workers.”

One film, entitled First Day at Work, shows a sweatshop manager at the firm Cheapco greeting a new woman worker with the announcement that as she was a bit late, no wages would be paid for that day.

The boss says the recruit will be fine, provided she does not talk, answer back, complain, make any excuses, get pregnant or leave or eat at her desk.

The manager tells the employee she must start at 5.00 am for a standard 14-hour shift, with no lunch or toilet breaks.

“And if you give me any backchat, you'll get a beating,” he adds.

Then the boss introduces a skeleton as the union representative and explains: “Just kidding. No unions at Cheapco. If you've got a problem about the way we work, just keep it to yourself.

“And if you need a contract, hire a car. We don't have them here.”

The manager concludes: “So, that's about it. A long day ahead. First pay cheque in a couple of months. Chop, chop.”

The film then displays the words: “British supermarkets are not allowed to treat their employees like this. So how come they can profit from the exploitation of workers in their supply chains overseas?”

It follows with the message: “Don't like what you see. Join us.” The charity's name then ends the film.

In the second film, The Job Interview, the boss, reading the candidate's application, says: “Well, I like what I see. You're poor, female and desperate for a job. It's yours if you want it? Of course you do. You need the money.

“We like to think of Cheapco as a big, happy family. And when it comes to family, you don't let people down, do you? So, no sick days, holidays, accidental pregnancies - or you're fired.

“And lunch break's your own time. So, please, wait till the end of the day for that.

“Strictly speaking, we don't have any eating or drinking during office hours. And no water breaks, toilet breaks, or any breaks.

“But we keep the doors locked. So you won't have to remember that.

“There's one other thing. We can get really busy during the day. So we're going to need all hands on deck most nights. Strictly speaking, we can't pay for overtime. It's just something we like our staff to do.

“Well, that's all I can think of for the time being. Pay's lousy, work's dangerous and you're scum.”

This film ends like The First Day at Work.




CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728



This webpage has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this webpage are the sole responsibility of War on Want and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.


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