News

'Kill off Doha' trade warning

26 November 2009 - 2:18pm

NEWS PEGS

  • Saturday, 28 November Geneva Anti-globalisation demonstration just before world trade ministers' summit
  • Monday, 30 November-Wednesday, 2 December 2009 Geneva World Trade Organisation ministerial talks
  • Monday, 30 November Tenth anniversary of protests at the global trade meeting, Seattle

WTO deal 'threatens millions of jobs'

Campaigners today warn that millions more people face poverty and unemployment if the current round of world trade negotiations are carried through to their conclusion. The alert comes from the anti-poverty charity War on Want as trade ministers prepare for the World Trade Organisation's summit in Geneva from Monday (30 November).

The summit marks the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the WTO summit in Seattle, where protestors and developing countries fought off pressure for a new trade round. Although the WTO launched a fresh round of negotiations in Doha two years later, those talks have collapsed again and again as wealthy nations have tried to force their free market agenda on developing countries while refusing to make meaningful cuts in their own farm subsidies.

War on Want executive director John Hilary said: "The WTO has failed to deliver. No amount of wishful thinking will transform it into a body that can offer solutions to the challenges facing our planet today. The Doha round should be abandoned without further delay, and a new process put in train to undo the damage already done by the WTO."

War on Want challenges recent claims made by WTO director general Pascal Lamy that concluding the Doha round will benefit poor people. According to the charity's research, completing the round would put 7.5 million workers at risk in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Tunisia and Uruguay, and millions more in other countries. It also cites a World Bank study which shows 80% of gains from the Doha round will go to high-income economies, and that the six countries of China, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Argentina and Brazil will reap almost all the rest. According to the charity, academic assessments now concur that the poorest countries will lose out as a result of the Doha round.

War on Want notes the global call for the immediate suspension of the WTO's financial services negotiations, which aim to further liberalise and deregulate financial markets despite wide opinion that such liberalisation has been a primary cause of the present crisis. War on Want also points to the commission set up by the United Nations under former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz, which has called for existing WTO restrictions on financial market regulation to be repealed.

War on Want's partners in the international farmers' movement have demanded a complete end to the WTO's agricultural negotiations, which threaten rural development and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers the world over. War on Want says the environmental case for halting the Doha round is just as urgent, with the "business as usual" approach advocated by the WTO sure to wipe out any gains from progress at the Copenhagen climate summit.

 


NOTES TO EDITORS

  • War on Want trade campaigns officer Dave Tucker will take part in the protest organised by Our World Is Not For Sale and Seattle to Brussels at 2.00 pm GMT on Saturday (28 November) in Place Neuve, rue de Hesse 8, 1204 Geneva
  • Dave can be reached in Geneva from tomorrow (Friday, 26 November) until Wednesday, 2 December on (+44) (0)7906 756863
  • War on Want executive director John Hilary can be reached in Geneva on Monday (30 November) and Tuesday (1 December) on (+44) (0)7983 550727
  • War on Want's research can be found here
  • The World Bank study can be downloaded here

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

New London store faces Primark storm

9 November 2009 - 3:55pm

NEWS PEG: Thursday, 12 November 2009 Primark opens its new London store

‘7p an hour sweatshop' factories spark protest
PICTURE/INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY

WHAT?
As Britain's leading cheap fashion retailer launches a new London store, campaigners hang out Primark's "dirty washing" in public with a clothes line which cites poverty wages for its garment workers

WHY?
The charity War on Want says Bangladeshi workers making Primark clothes earn as little as 7p an hour

WHEN?
9.00 am GMT, Thursday 12 November 2009

WHERE?
Unit 57, The Mall, Wood Green Shopping City, High Road, London N22 6YQ


As Primark's new London store opens Thursday (12 November), anti-poverty campaigners will hang out the retailer's "dirty washing" in public with a clothes line that cites workers making its clothes for as little as 7p an hour.

The charity War on Want will stage a demonstration amid the store launch days after Primark announced a massive 20 per cent jump in sales to £2.3 billion for the year to 12 September and profits up 8 per cent to £252 million. It will compare Primark's growth with declining living standards among garment workers on poverty wages for up to 80-hour weeks in three Bangladeshi factories. The charity will also contrast the Wood Green store's 75,000 square feet on two floors with the tiny one-room slum homes Primark garment workers share with four or five family members.

War on Want campaigner Seb Klier said: ""Primark has just reported huge sales and profits. But for many Bangladeshis producing its clothes their grim living standards are falling even lower as costs rise. It is high time Gordon Brown introduced regulation to stop this abuse."

The charity is targeting the store opening in north London to step up the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop fashion retailers exploiting overseas workers. Thousands of people have already signed up to the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign for 50,000 names demanding that Brown regulates the industry.

Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops is also endorsed by television star Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and clothes designer Betty Jackson. Among other backers are TV personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

Supportive public figures include Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner, president of the GMB union, Queen's Counsel Michael Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.


NOTE TO EDITORS

According to War on Want research, workers making clothes for Primark in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka received on average only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half a living wage. Some employees were paid only the minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month, far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed to escape dire hardship. The vast majority of employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities. Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh, employees said they were made to toil extra hours, often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet the Dhaka workers said none of their factories was unionised. Ifat, who toils in a factory supplying all three retailers, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."

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

‘G20 heads for jobs, climate disaster'

5 November 2009 - 4:35pm

NEWS PEGS

Friday-Saturday, 6-7 November 2009

G20 finance ministers hold talks at St Andrews in Scotland

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Coalition representing over 10 million people, Put People First, including War on Want, other anti-poverty organisations, trade unions and development, environmental and faith groups, stages G20 counter conferences in London and St Andrews


Ministers warned of huge economic losses

British chancellor Alistair Darling and finance ministers from the world's leading economies are today accused of sticking to policies which threaten higher unemployment and climate chaos.

The anti-poverty charity War on Want says the ministers' talks in the Scottish town of St Andrews tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday will spell disaster if they maintain the same approach and policies that sparked the global economic crisis.

John Hilary, the charity's executive director, will propose alternative policies at a London counter conference on Saturday with speakers including Danish ex-prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, MP Jon Cruddas and Green party leader Caroline Lucas.

The conference has been organised by a coalition representing more than 10 million people, Put People First, including War on Want, other anti-poverty organisations, trade unions and development, environmental and faith groups.

The International Labour Organisation estimates this year will end with 239 million jobless people worldwide - up a third compared to the 2007 level - with youth unemployment rising by up to 18 million to 90 million.

War on Want calls for a crackdown on tax havens. Britain loses an estimated £100 billion a year in tax dodges - enough to avoid feared health service cuts. And unpaid tax costs the developing world £250 billion a year.

The charity, with Put People First, is also demanding greater investment in public services, new jobs through a green global economy and steep emission cuts for developed nations at the UN summit in Copenhagen next month.

Mr Hilary said: "The G20 finance ministers have failed to learn the lessons from the financial crisis. Instead, they are merely tweaking a system which continues to favour the rich at the expense of the poor. We need a radical response from the G20 - not more of the same."

Protestors from Put People First will march in St Andrews on Saturday to demand ministers adopt policies which prioritise people's needs over corporate greed.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • The Put People First conference in London will take place from 10.00 am-5.30 pm on Saturday at Central Hall, Storey's Gate, Westminster, SW1H 9NH.
  • Campaigners from the coalition will stage a beach rally and picture opportunity on Saturday at St Andrews to show ministers' heads in the sand over the global economic crisis. The event will take place at 11.15 am at West Sands.
  • Activists will march at 12.30 pm from the beach to the university.
  • The alliance will hold a conference at the university from 1.30-6.00 pm. Speakers will include Kevin Dunion, rector of St Andrews University, Colin Hines, director of Finance for the Future and co-author of The Green New Deal, and Ugandan development campaigner Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe. The event will take place at St Andrews Students' Association, St Mary's Place, St Andrews KY16 9UZ.

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

New Primark store attacked on 'sweatshops'

5 November 2009 - 10:28am

NEWS PEG: Friday, 6 November 2009 Primark opens big new store in Cambridge


7p an hour protest targets Cambridge opening

Primark today came under fire for exploiting garment workers as Britain's leading cheap fashion retailer prepared to open its new Cambridge store.

This criticism, from anti-poverty charity War on Want, came in advance of the store's Burleigh Street launch tomorrow (Friday, 6 November). The charity unleashed its broadside amid Primark's announcement that the retailer made operating profits of £252 million in the year to 12 September - up 8 per cent - with sales 20 per cent higher at £2.3 billion.

War on Want claimed employees in three Bangladeshi factories toiled up to 80-hour weeks for as little as 7p an hour. It contrasts the three-floor Cambridge store's 54,000 square feet of space with the tiny one-room 100 square feet slum homes Primark garment workers share with four or five family members in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

War on Want says Primark is cashing in on cheap fashion at the expense of garment workers by opening the Cambridge store and another next week at London's Wood Green in the run-up to Christmas. In addition, the retailer has earmarked a site for a new Edinburgh branch 30 per cent bigger than its original location. It is also reported to plan a massive store in a huge £675 million extension to a Cardiff shopping centre.

But while Primark stores climb towards the 200 mark in six countries, the charity warns that rising food prices are deepening poverty for its Bangladeshi garment workers.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at the charity, said: "Primark is booming in the recession by keeping clothes prices so low at a terrible cost to its garment workers' living standards. Letting the retailers police themselves has failed to ensure workers decent pay and conditions. Now Gordon Brown must act to stop this abuse."

War on Want is making the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop fashion retailers exploiting overseas workers. Thousands of people have already signed up to the charity's Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign for 50,000 names demanding that Brown regulates the industry.

The push is also endorsed by television star Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and clothes designer Betty Jackson. Among other backers are TV personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew. Supportive public figures include Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner, president of the GMB union, Safia Minney, director of fair trade fashion company People Tree, Queen's Counsel Michael Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.

People can add their names on the campaign's website at www.lovefashionhatesweatshops.org

NOTE TO EDITORS

According to War on Want research, workers making clothes for Primark in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka received on average only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half a living wage. Some employees were paid only the minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month, far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed to escape dire hardship. The vast majority of employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities. Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh, employees said they were made to toil extra hours, often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet the Dhaka workers said none of their factories was unionised. Ifat, who toils in a factory supplying all three retailers, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."

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

 

 

‘Sweatshops' attacked over Primark sales leap

2 November 2009 - 4:59pm

NEWS PEG: Tuesday, 3 November 2009 Primark expected to report strong growth in full-year figures

EMBARGO: 00.01 hrs GMT, Tuesday 3 November 2009


Britain's leading cheap fashion retailer, Primark, today faced accusations of cashing in on the recession by exploiting overseas workers producing its clothes.

Amid reports that the retailer this morning will announce 7-8 per cent growth, anti-poverty charity War on Want claimed employees in three Bangladeshi factories toiled up to 80-hour weeks for as little as 7p an hour.

This attack came as Primark prepared to open a new store in Cambridge on Friday (6 November) and another at Wood Green in London on 12 November. In addition, the retailer has also earmarked a site for a new Edinburgh branch 30 per cent bigger than its original location. It is also reported to plan a massive store in a huge £675 million extension to a Cardiff shopping centre. War on Want contrasts the store's 100,000 square feet of space with the tiny 100 square feet slum homes Primark garment workers share with four or five family members in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. And while Primark nears almost 200 stores in five countries - profits last year grew 17 per cent to £233 million during the 12 months ending in September - rising food prices are deepening poverty for its Bangladeshi garment workers.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at the charity, said: "Primark is booming in the recession by keeping clothes prices so low at a terrible cost to its garment workers' living standards. Letting the retailers police themselves has failed to ensure workers decent pay and conditions. Now Gordon Brown must act to stop this abuse."

The criticism from War on Want coincides with the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop fashion retailers exploiting overseas workers. Thousands of people have already signed up to the charity's Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign for 50,000 names demanding that Brown regulates the industry.

The push is also endorsed by television star Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and clothes designer Betty Jackson. Among other backers are TV personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew. Supportive public figures include Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner, president of the GMB union, Safia Minney, director of fair trade fashion company People Tree, Queen's Counsel Michael Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.

People can add their names on the campaign's website at www.lovefashionhatesweatshops.org


NOTE TO EDITORS

According to War on Want research, workers making clothes for Primark in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka received on average only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half a living wage. Some employees were paid only the minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month, far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed to escape dire hardship. The vast majority of employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities. Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh, employees said they were made to toil extra hours, often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet the Dhaka workers said none of their factories was unionised. Ifat, who toils in a factory supplying all three retailers, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."

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

 

'Keep pressure on Honduras' call to EU

28 October 2009 - 1:01pm

NEWS PEG: Four months on since the military coup in Honduras

7p an hour protest targets Primark

27 October 2009 - 5:25pm

NEWS PEG: Thursday, 12 November 2009 Primark opens its new London store

Storm over 'sweatshops' faces new store

Primark opens its new London store next month amid claims that Britain's leading cheap fashion retailer is expanding by exploiting overseas garment workers.

The Wood Green store launches on 12 November as a charity warns that people making Primark clothes earn as little as 7p an hour.

War on Want plans to protest when Primark opens its doors at the Mall, known as Shopping City, in the High Road. It compares Bangladeshi workers' poverty pay for up to 80-hour weeks with the retailer's 21 per cent sales growth in the 16 weeks to 20 June and 10 per cent rise in profits to £122 million during the six months ending in February. The charity also contrasts the store's 75,000 square feet of space on two floors with the tiny 100 square feet slum homes Primark garment workers share with four or five family members.

War on Want is targeting the Wood Green opening to step up the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop fashion retailers exploiting overseas workers. Thousands of people have already signed up to the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign for 50,000 names demanding that UK prime minister Gordon Brown regulates the industry.

The push is also endorsed by television star Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and clothes designer Betty Jackson. Among other backers are TV personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

Supportive public figures include Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner, president of the GMB union, Queen's Counsel Michael Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.

War on Want campaigner Seb Klier said: "By the end of the year Primark will have grown to almost 200 stores in five countries. But for many Bangladeshis producing its clothes their grim living standards are falling even lower as costs rise. It is high time Brown introduced regulation to stop this abuse."

According to War on Want research, workers making clothes for Primark in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka received on average only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half a living wage. Some employees were paid only the minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month, far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed to escape dire hardship. The vast majority of employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities.Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh, employees said they were made to toil extra hours, often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet the Dhaka workers said none of their factories was unionised.

Lina earns just £16 (1850 taka) a month, toiling 12 hours a day producing clothes for Primark.

"It is not enough," she said. "I can only afford to live in one room with my husband, two-year-old boy and mother-in-law."

Ifat, who also works toils in a Primark factory, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."


NOTE TO EDITORS: The War on Want protest will take place from 9.00-10.00 am outside Primark's new store at Unit 57, The Mall, 159 High Road, Wood Green, London N22 6YQ

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

Jo Wood steps up sweatshops war

23 October 2009 - 12:00am

Star picture boosts largest ethical fashion drive

Television star Jo Wood today put her best foot forward by joining Britons who have posed for photographs to support the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop fashion retailers exploiting overseas workers.

She boosted a drive for 50,000 names demanding that UK prime minister Gordon Brown regulates the industry.

The former model, who now runs a business selling organic skin care products, features among thousands of people already signed up to the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign run by the anti-poverty charity War on Want.

Jo was shocked by garment workers' hardship when she visited the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka with fair trade fashion company People Tree.

She said: "The conditions that they lived in in the slums were appalling: the rubbish, the smell and the poverty. Up to six people live in a tin room on bamboo stilts above heaps of rubbish. Yet I was humbled by the people and their attitudes."

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: "Our charity is thrilled Jo spared us the time from her busy schedule to pose for a photograph and indebted to her for such commitment to this cause. We hope many others will follow her example."

People can add their names and pictures on the campaign's website at http://www.lovefashionhatesweatshops.org

According to War on Want research, workers making clothes for Primark, Tesco and Asda factories in Dhaka received on average only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half a living wage. Some employees were paid only the minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month, far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed to escape dire hardship.

The vast majority of employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities.Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh, employees said they were made to toil extra hours, often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet the Dhaka workers said none of their factories was unionised.

Lina earns just £16 (1850 taka) a month, toiling 12 hours a day producing Tesco clothes.

"It is not enough," she said. "I can only afford to live in one room with my husband, two-year-old boy and mother-in-law."

Ifat, who toils in a factory supplying Primark, Tesco and Asda, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."

The Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops push is also endorsed by pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and clothes designer Betty Jackson.

Among other backers are television personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

Supportive public figures include Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner, president of the GMB union, Queen's Counsel Michael Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.

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

‘Licence to kill for private armies’

19 October 2009 - 5:59pm

NEWS HOOK

London - Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Ex-British defence and home secretary John Reid - now group consultant to G4S, including ArmorGroup, which is hired by the UK government in Afghanistan - addresses the annual conference of the British Association of Private Security Companies

EMBARGO: 00.01 hrs, Tuesday 20 October 2009


Government condemned for failure to regulate private military and security companies

WHEN? 8.45-9.15 am BST, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

WHERE? Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD (nearest Tube stations: Great Portland Street, Regents Park and Oxford Circus)

WHAT? A campaigner dressed as Gordon Brown will hand over money to "armed" mercenaries, as War on Want protests against the government's failure to regulate private military and security companies.

War on Want today condemned the British government for giving UK private military and security companies a licence to kill by refusing to regulate the industry. Campaigners from the charity will demonstrate this morning outside the annual conference of the British Association of Private Security Companies which takes place in central London.

War on Want will protest against government plans to let private military and security companies police themselves, despite widespread human rights abuses by mercenary troops. The demonstration comes as the government is due to announce the outcome of consultation on its proposal for a voluntary code of conduct overseen by the BAPSC, the industry body.

A keynote speech at the conference will be made by John Reid, the former UK defence and home secretary, now a £50,000 group consultant to G4S, including ArmorGroup, hired by the British government in Afghanistan and Iraq. ArmorGroup hit the headlines in August when one of its contractors shot and killed two colleagues in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

The protest takes place only days after the second anniversary of an incident in Iraq when guards from the British private military and security firm Erinys International fired on a taxi, badly wounding three Iraqi civilians near Kirkuk.

Amid hundreds of cases of human rights abuse by mercenaries, War on Want is spearheading the campaign for tough legislation, including a ban on their use in combat and combat support. The charity is calling for all PMSCs to be subjected to individual parliamentary approved licences. It is also demanding for any government ministry which outsources a service to a PMSC to be held responsible for the firm's conduct and for all allegations of human rights abuses by contractors working for PMSCs to be independently investigated.

As the war in Afghanistan escalates and UK prime minister Gordon Brown prepares to send more British troops to the country, War on Want warns that the government is spending millions of pounds on PMSCs and risking civilian lives in Afghanistan by failing to regulate the industry.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at the charity, said: "The government has ignored all regulatory options in favour of a voluntary code of conduct for private armies. This is giving a licence to kill to private military and security companies. The proposed voluntary code of conduct flies in the face of the growing consensus on the need to regulate this deadly industry. More lives in war zones will be put at risk unless the government acts to regulate private armies now."

The UK government has spent £148 million on PMSC contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last three years. The government currently has contracts with PMSCs in Afghanistan worth more than £42 million from the beginning of 2008 to the end of this year, more than twice the figure for Iraq in the same period.

With Britain having the second largest PMSC industry in the world. UK private military and security firms now operating in Afghanistan include Olive, PAGE associates, Saladin Security, AEGIS, ArmorGroup, Blue Hackle, Control Risks Group, Edinburgh International, Global Security and IDG Security.


NOTE TO EDITORS:

  • The BAPSC was established in 2006 as an industry association body that works to promote the interests of private military and security companies. The conference will also hear keynote addresses from the former Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Andy Hayman and Sir Jeremy Greenstock ex-UK special representative to Iraq
  • Earlier this year the government published a consultation on its proposed voluntary code for PMSCs. It has so far failed to announced the results of the consultation.

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

 

Asda, Matalan slated over poverty pay

6 October 2009 - 6:28pm

NEWS HOOK: Wednesday, 7 October 2009 World Decent Work Day


Clothes retailers head factory shame list

Asda and Matalan are today named as among the worst British retailers for trapping their overseas garment workers in poverty.

This accusation comes in a new report that cites their lack of any coherent strategy to ensure a living wage for people who make their clothes abroad.

The report (attached) claims there is no coherent strategy to ensure a living wage for workers making clothes for Asda and Matalan stores.

It also criticises nine other retailers for their failure to undertake any real work towards a decent wage - Bhs, Clarks, Debenhams, French Connection, John Lewis, River Island, Sainsbury's, Tesco and the Arcadia Group, which includes Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Topman, Topshop and Wallis.

The report - Let's Clean Up Fashion - is being launched today by campaign group Labour Behind the Label and anti-poverty charity War on Want.

It coincides with World Decent Work Day and a new campaign by trade unions and labour rights groups which demands a minimum living wage for all garment producing countries in Asia.

The campaign for an Asian floor wage seeks the same living wage throughout Asia to stop retailers driving down pay.

Research by War on Want found workers making clothes for Asda, Tesco and Primark in Bangladesh earned as little as 7p an hour for up to 80-hour weeks.

The new Let's Clean Up Fashion study shows that retailers taking some action to end poverty pay are Gap, Next, New Look and Monsoon Accessorize.

But the report says that none of the 25 UK high street brands yet pays workers a living wage.

Its author, Anna McMullen, from Labour Behind the Label, said: "Many companies fail to admit that the prices they place on clothing and their own buying practices are to blame for the poverty experienced by those who make our clothes. Global buyers have the power to threaten to relocate production in the search for ever-lower prices. The downward pressure on prices lead to poor wages and keeps garment workers in poverty."

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Exploitation is still rife in the fashion industry, and our high street companies are responsible for it. There needs to be proper regulation to ensure fair treatment for the workers who produce our clothes. The British government must act now to end this abuse."

War on Want has launched the biggest-ever campaign to win a living wage for overseas garment workers.

The new Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops drive aims to collect 50,000 names calling on British prime minister Gordon Brown to regulate the industry.

It has brought support from public figures such as Strictly Come Dancing star Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen, designer Betty Jackson and comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez.

People can add their names on the campaign's website at http://www.lovefashionhatesweatshops.org

CONTACTS

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

Anna McMullen, the report's author at Labour Behind the Label (+44) (0)7786 832035

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