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Report Back: Don't Mention The Garment Workers

12 September 2014, Latest news

On Friday 12 September 2014, as London Fashion Week Started we took action to London Fashion Week tells a story of fashion that keeps the dark side of the industry in the shadows.

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‘Don’t mention the garment workers’

12 September 2014, Press releases

NEWS PEG:  Friday, 12 September 2014   London Fashion Week opens

Protesters today are taking action to mark the opening of London Fashion week with the message “Don’t mention the garment workers”.

Activists are highlighting an event which, they say, promotes the creativity of the UK’s fashion industry, but is silent over the millions of workers who produce clothes for high street chains, often working long hours on poverty pay in unsafe conditions.

The demonstration, organised by the anti-poverty charity War on Want, is taking place in view of London Fashion Week’s opening nearby at Somerset House.

Just before the catwalk shows begin, campaigners are sending the message to London Fashion Week “Don’t Mention The Garment Workers”.

War on Want senior campaigner Owen Espley said: “London Fashion Week is a glittering showcase for the fashion industry. But fashion’s dark side is kept in the shadows.

“The British Fashion Council would rather we all forget about those who often work long hours, on poverty pay, in unsafe conditions to produce the clothes we love.

“We can love fashion, but hate sweatshops and want a fashion week that lives up to its responsibility to all the workers who make the fashion we buy. The time has come for London Fashion Week to mention the garment workers.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

  • All major UK brands who are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative have signed a pledge to pay workers a living wage. None currently does so.

  • London Fashion Week is promoting itself as big business, stating that orders estimated at £100 million will be placed  during  the event. This is enough to pay a month’s wages for 2.4 million Bangladeshi garment workers who earn a mere £42 each month.

  • The minimum wage for clothing factory staff in Bangladesh – where brands such as Primark and Next source clothes – is only £42 a month.
  • The protest comes only days after Primark’s parent company, Associated British Foods, announced over £600 million operating profit for the fashion chain in the year to 13 September.

  • It also follows hard on the heels of Next reporting £324 million profit in the six months to the end of July.

  • In addition, the demonstration will raise concerns over garment workers in developing countries toiling up to 14 hours a day, large numbers of them suffering physical and verbal abuse, besides living in slum housing.

CONTACT

War on Want media officer Paul Collins

(+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

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Don't Mention The Garment Workers

12 September 2014, Latest news

Tansy Hoskins the author of Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion has written this guest blog about why she and War on Want have decided to send the message to the London Fashion Week "Don't Mention the Garment Workers"

Twice a year London is enveloped in the glittering spectacle of London Fashion Week – a giant sales show generating over £100 million in orders for some of the biggest corporations in the world.

It is at London Fashion Week, along with parallel events in New York, Milan and Paris that the story of fashion is created. Fashion is sold as aspirational, glamorous and inclusive, a way of creating an identity, of making your mark upon the world. The models strut, the clothes swish, the cameras flash and the front row gasps.

But something is missing. The hemlines are perfect, the makeup is flawless, the music is pumping – so what can it be?

The missing are the millions of people hidden behind this façade. The 1,138 Bangladeshi garment workers killed at Rana Plaza, the 6 Cambodians shot dead for asking for a pay rise, the Pakistani workers burnt alive in their factory, the Haitians trapped in poverty wages.

Fashion Week deliberately obscures these stories, it demands you look away, that the only thing you gasp at and connect with is the runway. It demands that you forget the billions of pounds in corporate profit, that you forget about what fashion does to the planet, that you ignore your misgivings about over consumption and that you forget about the people that stitched the clothes on your back.

With the distinction between high street and high fashion shrinking and with ‘designer‘ profits increasingly dependent on perfume, cosmetics, t-shirts, jeans, and accessories, the entire industry needs to take responsibility and become accountable for it’s actions.
This is our city and we want the truth told. It’s time to stop pretending they don’t exist. It’s time to talk about the garment workers.

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European Commission rejects a citizens' petition against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP)

11 September 2014, Press releases

The European Commission has today rejected a proposal from an alliance of European campaigners to hold a European Citizens' Initiative against the EU-US and EU-Canada trade deals (known as TTIP and CETA). This decision prevents citizens from forcing the Commission to review its policy on the deals and to hold a hearing in the European parliament.

Negotiations on TTIP and CETA deal have provoked strong opposition across Europe, the US and Canada. Campaigners fear these treaties will give unprecedented power to multinational corporations, risking privatisation of public services and dilution of environmental standards and workers’ rights. To express this opposition, over 200 trade unions, social justice campaigns, human rights groups and consumer watchdogs applied for a European Citizens’ Initiative to force a re-think on the deals. 

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Tags: trade justice | TTIP

   

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At the Frontlines: A night of poetry, music and politics

11 September 2014, Latest news

See photos from our inspirational 'At the Frontlines' event at the British Academy. With live music and performance poetry, the evening highlighted the struggles of War on Want's partners in Nigeria, Palestine and Colombia.

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Mobilisations in Colombia and London over violence against communities in Buenaventura

28 August 2014, Latest news

Activists in Colombia and London took to the streets this Wednesday 27 August to highlight the ongoing violence and mass displacement occurring in the Colombian port city of Buenaventura.

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G4S profits from illegal child imprisonment

12 August 2014, Press releases

The world’s largest security company, G4S, today faces growing pressure to end complicity in Israel’s torture and ill-treatment of Palestinians, on the eve of the firm announcing its half-year figures.

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War on Want backs protest to halt Israel arms trade

06 August 2014, Press releases

David Cameron faces new pressure to stop weapons deals with Israel, as a charity supports activists who have shut down for a second day a UK factory exporting military drone engines to Israel

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Communities in the Niger Delta demand justice

06 August 2014, Latest news

Ogoni protest 2014

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Gaza: the call for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions

05 August 2014, Latest news

Three great short films from our friends at the Rainbow Collective on why this is the moment that everyone must join the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Filmed at last week's demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in London, in solidarity with the Palestinian people besieged and under attack in Gaza. 

 

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Tags: campaigns | gaza | palestine

   

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TTIP: battle of the choirs

04 August 2014, Latest news

The battle over TTIP, the major corporate power deal currently being negotiated in secret by the European Commission and US government, has moved into the cultural sphere. Here are our friends from the Strawberry Thieves Socialist Choir with a bespoke TTIP version of Cole Porter's 'Don't Fence Me In': 

 

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Tags: films | trade justice | TTIP

   

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Shell blasted for pollution ‘neglect’

04 August 2014, Press releases

Royal Dutch Shell today faced heavy criticism that the UK-listed oil giant has turned its back on the victims of human rights and environmental abuse caused by the company, despite United Nations pressure for urgent remedial measures.

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Tags: conflict zones | Nigeria | overseas work | resources & conflict

   

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Gaza under attack! Stop Arming Israel! BDS now!

01 August 2014, Latest news

Photo: Patrick Abi Salloum

Photo: Patrick Abi Salloum

On 8 July 2014, Israel launched its third military attack on Gaza in five years. Entire neighbourhoods have been wiped out, with even more people killed than in the massacres of January 2009. Palestinian families living in Gaza have no safe places to flee to as schools, mosques and hospitals have been targeted by the Israeli military. Buildings hit include Gaza’s main hospital, a home for the elderly and disabled, a UN school which constitutes Gaza’s principal evacuation centre, a busy food market and Gaza’s main electricity plant.

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Tags: campaigns | gaza | palestine

   

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GM promotes poverty and dependency in Africa

28 July 2014, Latest news

Millions of BBC World Service radio listeners were misled again on why African civil society rejects genetically modified crops and big business control over food. The misinformation came when the programme Science in Action featured Rob Bailey, acting research director at the UK-based international affairs think tank Chatham House. Bailey co-wrote the new Chatham House report On Trial: Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa.

Leading campaigners in Africa have already responded to Bailey's misleading arguments in the Guardian, yet Bailey continues to recite the same lines.

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Tolpuddle 2014 - Midsummer Night's Dream and the Tempest all in one weekend!

28 July 2014, Previous events

19-20 July 2014 - Tolpuddle Festival, Dorset

Despite the best efforts of the British weather, once again the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival was a great success. Thousands of people came along - some camped while others opted to join in on Sunday with the famous Topuddle rally. Hundreds of union banners were out in force and brass bands, samba bands and the Socialist Choir filled the country air with sounds of solidarity.

Following a week of strikes and industrial action, trade unionists were fired up to debate and discuss the fightback against the coalition government's continuing programme of austerity. Speakers included TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, Brazilian trade union leader Antonio de Lisboa Amancio Vale and Guardian columnist Owen Jones amongst others. Moving tributes were paid to Bob Crow and Tony Benn who were lost to the movement earlier this year. 

A big thanks to all those of you who visited War on Want at our stall in the Martyrs' Marquee (we were quite grateful to be inside!), We had our TTIP report by John Hilary, which flew off the table, such is the need to fight off the threat of this EU-US trade deal. We also collected hundreds of signatures from people who wanted to make their statement to the Foreign Secretary about retail store Gap and its unwillingness to sign up to the Bangladesh Safety Accord. Gap and Wal-Mart have instead offered a voluntary alternative, with no negotiations with trade unions and no independent monitoring of factories. 

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