‘Deathtrap' protests target Kate favourite Gap

24 April 2014 - 11:50am
Press release

NEWS PEG: Thursday, 24 April 2014 First anniversary since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh

Mark Thomas, Katharine Hamnett in demos over safety plan

Fashion shoppers at Kate Middleton's favourite store near her Kensington home in London were today urged to support workers making their clothes who fear the retailer is exposing them to potential deathtrap factory risks.

Activists protested outside Gap's flagship High Street branch, close to her Kensington Palace apartment, over its refusal to join companies that have signed a legally binding accord, following the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh.

Before Kate's tour of New Zealand and now Australia, with Prince William, numerous journalists reported her visit to the Gap shop, where she bought clothes for their baby George and herself.

Gap is one of the largest buyers of clothing from Bangladesh.

In recent years many garment workers have lost their lives there, amid Gap factory tragedies, including some jumping to their deaths in desperate escape bids and others killed in a stampede after a boiler explosion (notes below).

The demonstration came as rallies take place across Britain and overseas, demanding fair treatment for garment workers, a year on since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh killed over 1,100 people, mainly clothes factory staff.

In Kensington campaigners appealed to Gap to sign the accord and ensure a living wage for supply chain workers.

The protesters included comedian and writer Mark Thomas, representatives from the charity War on Want and Tansy E Hoskins,
the journalist who has written the new book Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion.

And at lunchtime activists – including fashion designer Katharine Hamnett and Amirul Haque Amin, president of War on Want's
Bangladeshi partner, the National Garment Workers' Federation – will form a human chain outside Gap's flagship Oxford Street branch.

The chain will also feature demonstrators from War on Want, besides the campaign organisation Labour Behind the Label and the
Muslim youth group MADE in Europe.

Leading brands sold in Britain - such as Top Shop, Next and Primark – have joined over 150 signatories to the accord, with workers' representatives comprising half of its governing committee.

The signatories have made commitments to independent experts inspecting workplaces, improvements in factories' safety, and
guarantees for union access to conduct training on workers' rights and safety officers.

In addition, the accord ensures public reporting of inspections, money from brands and retailers for mandatory repairs and the right for workers' representatives to initiate enforcement proceedings against firms that flout their obligations.

Gap has instead joined a different plan, which contains no right to refuse dangerous work, trade union access to factories or any
commitment for collaboration with workplaces to make conditions safe.

Activists claim the Rana Plaza tragedy and earlier disasters were no accidents, but predicted and preventable.

Before the Rana Plaza block collapsed, though workers pointed out huge cracks in the walls, their bosses ordered them to resume
work, or face either dismissal or the loss of a month's wages.

Bangladeshi garment workers earn as little as £42 a month, with most of the predominantly female staff toiling up to 14 hours a day as they struggle to feed their families.

Jeff Powell, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: “The media ballyhoo about Kate‘s Gap shopping spree must not hide the brand's failure to sign the accord. Millions around the world today mourn the workers who died in the Rana Plaza disaster. Yet Gap abuses their memory by rejecting moves to prevent future tragedies. We urge people to back our drive for safe conditions and decent pay for workers producing our clothes.”


Garment factory fire kills at least 25 workers in Bangladesh


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

Paul Collins
Media officer
War on Want
(+44) (0)20 7324 5054
(+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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