War on Want story up for award

3 June 2008 - 6:19pm
Press release

A front page splash news story, nominated by the anti-poverty charity War on Want, could win Guardian senior news reporter Karen McVeigh a prize in the prestigious One World Media Awards next week.

Judges for the press section prize have shortlisted the story on workers making clothes for British stores toiling for up to 80 hours a week for as little as 4p an hour in Bangladesh.

Twelve award categories have attracted over 300 entries, a record for the annual prizes given by the One World Broadcasting Trust, which aims to increase understanding between developed and developing countries.

War on Want nominated McVeigh for her article last July on employees producing clothes for Primark, Asda and Tesco facing poor wages and conditions six months after the charity exposed the scandal in its Fashion Victims report.

In the article employees of factories making clothes for George at Asda, Tesco and Primark said their wages were so low that, despite working up to 84-hour weeks, they struggled to provide for their families.

There were also reports of physical and verbal abuse by supervisors and of workers being sacked for taking sick leave.

All but one of the eight workers interviewed, from seven different factories in the capital Dhaka, claimed they were forced to work 12-hour days and sometimes all night to finish an order.

Employees from companies supplying all three retailers said they were refused access to trade unions and claimed that in the previous month four colleagues had been dismissed for trying to organise a union.

Parvin, 25, a sewing machine operator making jeans for Primark, said that she felt ?threatened and frightened? when seeing a colleague slapped by a supervisor for not meeting her target.

Azizul, 28, who works in another factory producing items for Primark, said he had been sacked and his wages withheld for two days' leave to take his baby daughter to hospital.

War on Want helped McVeigh interview workers, who met her at their homes to avoid bosses' reprisals.

War on Want media officer Paul Collins said: "Karen exposed retailers' shame with moving testimonies from workers battling to survive making clothes sold in many UK stores. We are delighted the judges have shortlisted her for such an important story and we hope she wins."

 


 

NOTE TO EDITORS

  • The One World Media Awards, hosted by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, will take place on 12 June at the New Connaught Rooms in central London.
  • Other shortlisted press section articles are Fruitless in Gaza by Donald MacIntyre, Independent correspondent in Jerusalem, and Inside a Nest of Suicide Bombers by Sunday Times foreign reporter Hala Jaber.
  • You can pdfdownload Fashion Victims here, the War on Want report on employees producing clothes for Primark, Asda and Tesco

 

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

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