Sweatshop shames Banana Republic launch

20 March 2008 - 4:40pm
Press release

Campaigners for ethical fashion staged a demonstration today when Banana Republic, the up-market chain of the Gap clothes empire, opened its first European store in London.

The anti-poverty charity War on Want protested amid claims by Indian representatives of the group Jobs with Justice that people work 70 hours a week for as little as 15p an hour, well under a living wage, making Banana Republic clothes in Delhi.

The employees' pay contrasts with the reported $1.5 million basic salary for Gap chief executive Glen Murphy and the $2.5 billion turnover for Banana Republic.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "This sweatshop shame represents the latest example of high street retailers breaking their pledges to ensure decent wages and conditions for overseas workers. Now Gordon Brown must act to halt this exploitation."

 


 

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

NOTE TO EDITORS: Earlier stories on UK retailers' sweatshops below.

January 2008 New evidence from the Garment and Textile Workers' Union in India reveals that employees producing clothes for Matalan, H & M and MK One are denied a living wage, £54 a month - enough to meet their bills for housing, food and healthcare. They receive only £38 a month - less than three-quarters of a living wage. The evidence coincides with British prime minister Gordon Brown's visit to India, where he promotes UK business at a summit with Indian premier Manmohan Singh.

December 2007 Workers are still being paid less than half a living wage producing clothes for leading UK retailers Primark, Tesco and Asda in Bangladesh - a year after War on Want's report Fashion Victims exposed their sweatshops. The £4.6 million in salary and bonuses for Tesco's chief executive Sir Terry Leahy could pay the annual wages of more than 25,000 Bangladeshi garment employees who supply its stores, based on average wages of about £15 a month.

October 2007 British newspaper The Observer finds unpaid Indian children as young as 10 working 16 hours a day amid filthy conditions, making clothes for sale in Gap stores as Christmas gifts.

September 2007 War on Want and the anti-sweatshop coalition Labour Behind the Label name and shame 12 UK fashion stores which have cold-shouldered the only detailed study on the case for garment employees to receive a living wage. The culprits listed in Let's Clean Up Fashion 2007 Update are Bhs, Diesel, House of Fraser, Kookai, Matalan, MK One, Moss Bros, Mothercare, Peacocks/Bon Marche, River Island, Rohan Designs and Ted Baker. War on Want and Labour Behind the Label say the culprits "make no reasonable information available on the living wage or other labour rights issues" and "continue not to respond to our enquiries about their policies and practice."

British newspaper The Guardian reports allegations that Indian workers making clothes for British retailers Primark and Mothercare are so poor - paid as little as 13p an hour - that they sometimes have to rely on government food parcels.

August 2007 British newspaper The Sunday Times finds workers in Mauritius paid less than £4 a day to make clothes for the latest range designed by supermodel Kate Moss for sale by the UK retailer Topshop,

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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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