News

G20 urged to avert global disaster

2 September 2009 - 12:05pm

PICTURE/AUDIO/INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY

NEWS HOOK
London, Friday-Saturday 4-5 September 2009

Finance ministers from G20 group of the world's most powerful economies meet in London

"Stop letting money rule the world" call by campaigners in G20 leaders' masks and suits, backed by money-themed music


Activists warn of job losses and climate chaos

WHEN?
10.30-11.15 am BST, Friday 4 September 2009

WHERE?
North junction between Leadenhall Street and St Mary Axe, London EC3 3DQ‎ (view of City landmark the Gherkin skyscraper)

WHAT?
Campaigners from the Put People First coalition, in G20 leaders' masks and suits, hold cash-laden throne, warning "Stop letting money rule the world". The activists, backed by money-themed music, will then go on a walking tour of City institutions which the coalition blames for the crisis along with the G20 leaders.

Protestors wearing G20 leaders' masks and suits next week (Friday, 4 September) will call for new policies to protect the livelihoods of millions of people amid the growing world economic crisis. (see attached briefing)

Campaigners from the coalition Put People First, representing over 10 million people, will hold aloft a throne laden with huge bags of cash and unfurl a banner calling on the G20 to "Stop letting money rule the world", backed by money-themed music.

The protest will come as British chancellor Alistair Darling and other finance ministers begin two-day London talks in the run-up to the G20 leaders' summit on the crisis in Pittsburgh on 24-25 September.

The coalition says that by sticking to the free market practices which caused the global slump, the G20 would condemn millions more people to unemployment and condemn the planet to devastating climate change.

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

But the coalition says such job losses can be avoided by new economic policies designed to put people before corporate profits.

Put People First calls for a crackdown on tax havens. Britain loses an estimated £100 billion a year in tax dodges - enough to double funds for the health service. And unpaid tax costs the developing world £250 billion a year.

The coalition 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 later this year.

John Hilary, executive director at the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: "The G20 has done nothing to address the root causes of the global economic crisis. Despite the fact that lax regulation of banks led to the financial meltdown, G20 leaders are now calling for more deregulation of financial markets through the Doha round of world trade talks. It is time to call an end to the free market fundamentalism which has caused so much poverty and suffering in the world."

Jubilee Debt Campaign director Nick Dearden said: "The financial system has delivered economic and environmental chaos. No wonder that people and governments around the world are demanding change. But change that works for all countries and people will only come when all countries and people are involved in setting the rules. We need a radical democratisation of the economic and financial system - a global economy of the people, by the people, for the people."

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: "The recession isn't over for the millions of people here and around the world who are without jobs or worried about losing them. There is more to be done by the world's leaders and finance ministers if we are to build a sustainable recovery with decent work for all. Getting back to business as usual isn't good enough because it just means another recession round the corner."

Asad Rehman, senior climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "Developed nations are responsible for most of the carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution - and have grown very rich in doing so. Developing nations are far smaller per capita polluters, yet many of them are at the forefront of the devastating consequences of climate change. Rich industrialised countries must stop playing Russian roulette with the future of the planet and make a clear commitment to compensate poorer nations for the full costs of adapting to climate change, and fund the transition to low carbon infrastructure in the developing world."

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • After the picture/audio/interview opportunity, campaigners in masks and suits, backed by money-themed music, will tour City institutions which the coalition blames for the crisis along with the G20 leaders. Activists will meet outside Liverpool Street rail station next to McDonalds, 50 Liverpool Street London London EC2M 7PD. Tour stops include: Royal Bank of Scotland, 250 Bishopsgate, EC2M4 AA. ETF Securities, 2 London Wall Buildings London, London EC2M 5UU. European Climate Exchange, 62 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AW. International Financial Services London, 29-30 Cornhill, London EC3V 3NF. Barclays Bank, 54 Lombard Street, London EC3P 3AH. Willis Building, 51 Lime Street, London EC3M 7DQ.
  • Put People First includes over 100 development charities, trade unions, environmental, faith and anti-poverty groups.

CONTACTS

Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728Nick Dearden, Jubilee Debt Campaign director (+44) (0)20 7324 4722 (+44) (0)7932 335464
Liz Chinchen, head of TUC European Union and international relations (+44) (0)20 7467 1325 or (+44) (0)7788 715261
Neil Verlander, Friends of the Earth press officer (+44) (0)20 7566 1649 or (+44) (0)7712 843209
Kate Blagojevic, World Development Movement press officer (+44) (0)20 7820 4913 or (+44) (0)7711 875345
Jesse Griffiths, Bretton Woods Project coordinator (+44) (0)20 7561 7546 or (+44) (0)7968 041747

Brown pressed to tax banks for poor

27 August 2009 - 2:49pm

Activists welcome call for Tobin tax

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today demanded that British prime minister Gordon Brown acts on backing for a tax on foreign currency transactions by Lord Turner, chairman of the Finance Services Authority.

Executive director John Hilary said: "War on Want welcomes Lord Turner's support for a Tobin tax to curb bank profits and bonuses. As well as restraining bank excesses, such a tax could generate billions for developing countries to use in the fight against poverty. We call on Gordon Brown to implement this tax as an urgent measure amid the growing world economic crisis."

A currency transactions tax at 0.005% on the four major currencies of sterling, the euro, the US dollar and the Japanese yen would generate £20 billion annually, according to research published by War on Want and the United Nations University.

A similar tax on sterling alone would generate £3 billion a year.

In the last decade War on Want has led the campaign for a Tobin tax.

It is named after the American economist James Tobin, who first proposed the tax over 30 years ago.

Hilary chairs the Stamp Out Poverty campaign, successor to the Tobin Tax Network.

Plans for self-regulation of UK mercenaries slammed following killings in Iraq

10 August 2009 - 3:15pm

NEWS HOOK Monday, 10 August 2009 -- Reports that a security contractor working for British private military company ArmorGroup shot dead two colleagues in Iraq


Charity calls for tough legislation to curb abuses

Today War on Want demanded that the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband scrap proposals for UK private military companies to police themselves or risk further killings in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The warning follows reports that a security contractor working for British private military company ArmorGroup shot dead two colleagues, one Australian and one British, and injured an Iraqi in Baghdad.

In a public consultation, which concluded in July, the UK government rejected all the available regulatory options for private military and security companies and recommended self-regulation for the industry despite calls from British MPs on the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee for strict curbs on these firms.

War on Want has spearheaded the campaign for tough legislation, including a ban on mercenaries' use in combat and combat support.

Ruth Tanner, Campaigns and Policy Director, War on Want said "These killings are a reminder of the havoc which private military and security companies have wreaked in Iraq over the past six years. The British government has responded by suggesting that mercenaries police themselves leaving civilians in war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq exposed to further abuse."

The charity points to the hundreds of human rights abuses which have involved UK and US private armies in Iraq and Afghanistan. These include:

  • the wounding of two Iraqi civilians when mercenaries from the UK company Erinys International fired on a cab near Kirkuk.
  • mercenaries with the US firm Blackwater, now renamed Xe, shooting at and killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.
  • mercenaries working for the NATO coalition shooting the Kandahar police chief and nine of his officers in Afghanistan.

Over the last three years, the UK has spent more than £148 million on contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

ArmorGroup has been one of the British Government's favoured private military contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan.


NOTES TO EDITORS

War on Want led the call for control over private military companies when the charity launched its report Corporate Mercenaries.

  • A year later, War on Want stepped up its drive after the Blackwater and Erinys shootings.
  • In December 2007, the charity published the briefing paper Getting Away with Murder. It cited reporters of hundreds of human rights violations by mercenary troops in Iraq to strengthen its campaign for curbs, including a ban on mercenaries' use in combat.
  • In February last year War on Want launched a legal challenge on the British government over its failure to ensure democratic control over private armies.
  • Last July the charity accused the UK of blocking regulation after a document, acquired under freedom of information laws, revealed ministers went close to launching pre-legislative consultation.

CONTACT: Ruth Tanner, War on Want (+44) (0)20 7549 0583 or (+44) (0)7811469547

New Primark store faces storm

5 August 2009 - 11:46am

NEWS HOOK:
Thursday, 13 August 2009 - Britain's most popular cheap fashion retailer Primark opens its second biggest UK store in Bristol

PICTURE/INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY:
9.00-10.00 am Thursday, 13 August 2009
Primark, 1-27 The Horsefair, Broadmead shopping centre, Bristol BS1 3BB
Anti-sweatshop campaigners with radios stage public broadcast protest


7p an hour sweatshops row hits launch

The launch of Primark's second biggest UK store in Bristol next week will be marked by a demonstration over the conditions faced by 7p an hour workers making its clothes.

The Bristol-based campaign organisation Labour Behind the Label and the anti-poverty charity War on Want will lead the protest as the four-floor, 90,000 square feet shop opens on Thursday (13 August).

The protestors will compare Primark's financial success with workers in Bangladesh producing its clothes for as little as 7p an hour for up to 80-hour weeks, well under a living wage.

Protestors will demonstrate, using radios broadcasts of garment workers' voices, sweatshop figures, protest songs and announcements.

The demonstrators will point to Primark's new store and 11 others launched in the past year, including its first outlets in Germany and Portugal.

They will also cite Primark'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.

According to War on Want research, workers interviewed toiling at three Primark factories 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 for nutritious food, clean water, shelter, clothes, education, health care and transport.

The vast majority of employees lived 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, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."

Labour Behind Label spokesperson Anna McMullen said: "Primark sell clothes at rock bottom prices by driving down suppliers' costs, trapping garment workers in poverty. It must stop paying lip service to ethics and ensure decent wages and conditions for the people behind their success."

War on Want spokesperson Seb Klier said: "For years Primark has reassured shoppers its garment workers earn a living wage. Yet our research exposes these claims as nothing more than cynical attempts to mislead the public. It is high time the British government stopped this abuse."


NOTE TO EDITORS:

CONTACTS:

  • Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728
  • Sam Maher, Labour Behind the Label (+44) (0)7517 516943

Self-regulation for mercenaries sparks Afghan warning

17 July 2009 - 12:00am

NEWS HOOK Friday, 17 July 2009 UK government ends consultation over self-regulation for private military companies


Abuse fears grow as conflict mounts

British foreign secretary David Miliband is today accused of risking civilian lives in Afghanistan by allowing UK private military companies to regulate themselves.

This warning, from the charity War on Want, comes amid mounting controversy surrounding more deaths in Afghanistan as the government today ends consultation over its proposals for self-regulation of mercenary firms.

The charity points to many human rights abuses which have involved private armies in Iraq and Afghanistan. These include:

  • the wounding of two Iraqi civilians when mercenaries from UK company Erinys International fired on a cab near Kirkuk.
  • mercenaries with the US firm Blackwater, now renamed Xe, shooting at and killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.
  • mercenaries working for the NATO coalition shooting the Kandahar police chief and nine of his officers in Afghanistan.

War on Want says the UK government's voluntary code of conduct for mercenaries would leave civilians in war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq exposed to further abuse.

It has spearheaded the campaign for tough legislation, such as a ban on mercenaries' use in combat and combat support.

The charity is now demanding the government scraps its proposal for self-regulation and allows Parliament to have its say on legislation that would ensure strict controls.

Government figures show private military companies have secured British government contracts for 2008-2009 worth more than £42 million in Afghanistan alone.

Over the last three years, the UK has spent more than £148 million on contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As Britain and the US plan to send more troops to Afghanistan, reports suggest there will be wider use of private armies.

The Afghan and Iraqi administrations have passed laws restricting or banning mercenaries.

The US has seen moves to regulate private military companies under presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.

The United Nations has called for governments to introduce legislation to control the private military sector.

In 2002 the UK government and the Commons foreign affairs select committee admitted self-regulation was not adequate as a solution.

But if Miliband's policy goes ahead, no UK private military companies could be held to account for human rights abuse.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Letting mercenaries run loose threatens to increase abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq. Miliband is giving private armies the power to act with impunity. The government must scrap its voluntary code for mercenaries and bring forward genuine regulation."

NOTE TO EDITORS: The submission by War on Want in response to the government's consultation is available on request.

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

‘Kill off G8 dinosaur'

7 July 2009 - 3:21pm

NEWS HOOK: Wednesday 8 July-Friday 10 July 2009 G8 group of the world's richest nations holds summit


Call to dump free market policies

The G8 group of the world's richest nations is a dinosaur which should be put out of its misery, the British anti-poverty War on Want says today.

It says the group should be scrapped in favour of a democratic alternative based on people's needs, not corporate greed.

The call is signalled as UK prime minister Gordon Brown and the other G8 leaders prepare to start their three-day summit in the Italian earthquake-hit city of L'Aquila tomorrow (Wednesday).

War on Want cites German chancellor Angela Merkel's comment that "the G8 format is no longer adequate".

But the charity says Merkel's proposal to extend the G8 to the G20, including the largest developing countries, ignores the fact that both groups have championed the free market policies which caused the world economic crisis.

John Hilary, executive director at the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: "It is time to put the G8 dinosaur out of its misery and to recognise that even the G20 is already past its sell-by date. Both the G8 and G20 continue to promote the free market policies which are increasing global poverty. We need a new body with a radical new plan for the world's economy, drawn up and backed by the full membership of the United Nations."

War on Want points to wide consensus that the present crisis is the result of structural imbalances caused by three decades of deregulated free-market capitalism. It highlights the need for the world economic system to undergo a major transformation.

But, the charity says, the G20 used the London summit in April to resurrect the failed policies and institutions of the free market era.

The London summit gave even more power to three institutions which, the charity claims, have policed the neoliberal world order - the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.

War on Want cites the findings of an expert commission, chaired by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, which has devised a series of radical recommendations for global economic reform.

Proposals to the UN summit on the financial crisis in June included a global economic coordination council within the UN, which, War on Want claims, would bring a more just and sustainable form of global economic coordination than now practised by the WTO, IMF and World Bank.

According to the charity, the UN process offers a democratic alternative that would enable those least responsible for the crisis to make fair and effective decisions on the future of the world economy.

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

 

Tesco clothes ‘sweatshops' attacked

2 July 2009 - 1:48pm

NEWS HOOK: Britain's largest retailer Tesco holds its annual meeting in Glasgow


Campaign targets £3bn profits retailer's AGM

Britain's largest retailer Tesco today comes under fire over 7p an hour garment workers in Bangladesh as shareholders prepare to hail the company's record £3 billion profits at its annual meeting.

The charity War on Want cited research which reveals employees toiling up to 80 hours a week making Tesco clothes in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka for as little as 1663 taka (£14) a month.

Employees calculate a worker needs £44.82 (5333 taka) a month to give their family nutritious food, clean water, shelter, clothes, education, health care and transport.

In the three Tesco factories researched, average workers' pay, £20 (2280 taka) a month, is less than half a living wage.

Most employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities.

Runa, who produces Tesco clothes, is one of many young women forced by poverty to leave her rural home to earn money to send back to her family.

She said: "My pay is so meagre that I cannot afford to keep my child with me. I have sent my five-month old baby to the village to be cared for by my mother."

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

Though compulsory 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 suffer verbal and physical abuse as they struggle to meet unrealistic targets

War on Want contrasts Tesco's claim to respect the rights of its garment suppliers to join and form trade unions with the charity's study which revealed that none of the Dhaka factories investigated was unionised.

War on Want adds that Tesco has signed up to a code of conduct under the Ethical Trading Initiative which commits the retailer to pay garment workers living wages, support freedom of association and collective bargaining, and to ban harsh treatment and excessive working hours.

Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "While Tesco has smashed all records with more than £3 billion profits, it is also breaking promises to ensure a living wage and decent conditions for its garment workers. Tesco cannot be trusted to keep its word. The British government must act to stop this abuse."

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

NOTE TO EDITORS: Tesco's annual meeting will take place at 10.30 am on Friday (3 July) in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Exhibition Way, Finnieston, Glasgow G3 8YW.

‘Rich countries snub poor'

25 June 2009 - 4:56pm

NEWS HOOK: Friday, 26 June 2009 UN summit on world financial crisis ends in New York


UK helps block radical UN response to finance crisis

Millions of people in developing and developed countries face growing hardship after Britain with other rich European countries and the US blocked a radical UN response to the global financial crisis.

This warning comes today from the anti-poverty charity War on Want amid the UN summit on the crisis in New York.

The charity said the summit communiqué expected to be adopted in full tomorrow made significant references to fundamental issues such as debt, tax, aid conditionality and regulation.

It added that the document would also include the important recognition that poor countries are not to blame for a crisis which is hitting them hardest.

But the communiqué fails to agree action on the urgent progressive changes needed to transform the global economy. Instead it declares a commitment to more of the same policies that War on Want argues led to the crisis.

The document calls for the conclusion of the Doha round of trade negotiations - a move that War on Want says would deepen unemployment already soaring due to the crisis.

The charity says that conclusion of the Doha round threatens 7.5 million workers in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia and Uruguay, and millions more in other countries.

In a report to the conference, a UN commission led by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz cited the role trade has played as a cause of the crisis.

Among his proposals, Stiglitz argued the need for the world economic system to undergo a major transformation.

Yet the communiqué ignores the report's key proposal - a powerful global economic coordination council within the UN to bring more just and sustainable change than offered by the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organisation.

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: "Wealthy countries like Britain have tried to block UN proposals for radical action on the global economy and used the summit to reaffirm support for a failed free market agenda. Millions of the world's poor people face worse hardship so long as rich nations dictate the rules of the global economy."

According to War on Want, before the conference the UK and other western governments tried to water down proposals with moves including threats of a boycott and publicly rubbishing the summit. The charity also pointed to signs that the UK had pressed developing countries to downgrade their own support for the conference. British premier Gordon Brown refused to send a cabinet minister to the event, but will attend the G8 summit in July, which War on Want brands outdated and elitist.

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

Brown told: ‘Rich don't have the answers to the crisis'

22 June 2009 - 11:44am

NEWS HOOK

UN summit, 24-26 June, New York

G8 summit, 8-10 July, Italy


Criticism of prime minister's commitment to a ‘new politics' as he shuns the UN but attends the G8

Campaigners today criticised Gordon Brown for refusing to send a cabinet minister to the United Nations summit on the economic crisis (1), but personally attending the 'outdated and elitist' G8 meeting in July.

War on Want, Jubilee Debt Campaign and the World Development Movement argue that as the vast majority of the world's countries are not invited to the G20 or G8 meetings, the UN summit is vital in enabling those least responsible for the crisis to make fair and effective decisions on the future of the world economy.

A commission, chaired by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, has already devised a series of radical recommendations for global economic reform. But the three organisations claim the UK and other western governments have been trying to water down proposals, including threats of boycott and public rubbishing of the summit. They say there are signs that Britain has been putting pressure on developing countries to downgrade their own support for the summit. And UN diplomats have revealed that UK government officials have been visiting developing country capitals in order to "persuade" them not to send high ranking officials to the UN conference.

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: "Brown is determined to see off calls for regulation and continue on the path of free market fundamentalism at all costs. The UK government has made no secret of its efforts to rubbish the UN process. Alarmingly, it now looks like the government is also going out of its way to undermine the involvement of developing countries as well."

Nick Dearden, the Jubilee Debt Campaign director, said: "If we're ever going to see a more just economy, the prime minister and other western leaders need to start listening to the majority of the world. It's surely become apparent over the last 12 months that the rich don't have the answers. If we need to clean up politics in the UK, it's needed even more internationally, where the rule of the richest is still taken for granted."

Vicky Cann, campaigns officer at the World Development Movement, said: "The G8 is an outdated and elitist forum. The G20 is still unrepresentative and did not generate the radical ideas needed to make the global economy work for people and the planet. The focus on pushing free trade and rushing through the WTO Doha trade deal is a smokescreen behind which rich governments are hiding to keep big business happy. The World Bank, IMF and WTO need to be radically reformed and ideally replaced - not given more power over those countries which did nothing to create this crisis, but which are suffering most from it."

Campaigners are particularly anxious that the summit agrees that transformative, structural change to the global economy is needed, not simply tinkering at the edges. Particular support is given to professor Stiglitz's proposals for:

  • a powerful global economic coordination council within the UN, which would bring a more just and sustainable form of global economic coordination than is currently offered by the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organisation.
  • a debt restructuring mechanism, leading to cancellation of unpayable and illegitimate developing country debt.
  • an end to the practice of forcing economic policies on developing countries, and radical reform of international financial institutions and the WTO.
  • new arrangements for a global reserve currency to replace the dollar.

Campaigners are also calling for climate change to be tackled through the UN and fear the G8 will pre-empt an international discussion at Copenhagen in December.


CONTACTS

Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)7983 550728

Nick Dearden, Jubilee Debt Campaign (+44) (0)7932 335464

Kate Blagojevic, World Development Movement media office (+44) (0)7711 875345

NOTE TO EDITORS

1. United Nations Conference on the Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development on 24-26 June in New York City.

     

    ‘UK must end sweatshops exploitation'

    17 June 2009 - 3:59pm

    NEWS HOOK

    London, 6.30 pm, Wednesday 17 June 2009

    Bangladeshi garment workers leader attacks Primark, Tesco and Asda over exploitation


    7p an hour workers spark unions call

    British prime minister Gordon Brown tonight (Wednesday) faces mounting pressure to stop UK retailers exploiting people who make their clothing overseas.

    Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers' Federation, a Bangladeshi trade union, will speak out in London over Primark, Tesco and Asda employees paid as little as 7p an hour for up to 80-hour weeks.

    Haque will tell a public meeting: "British companies demand factories produce their cheap, good-quality clothes to meet fast fashion deadlines. But they ignore the lack of a living wage, proper overtime rates, paid maternity leave and union rights. The UK government must act to halt this abuse."

    The meeting has been organised by the federation's partner, anti-poverty charity War on Want.

    Its latest sweatshops report attacked Primark, Tesco and Asda over growing hardship for their garment workers. All of the employees interviewed earned far below the living wage of £44.82 (5333 taka) a month.

    War on Want says British ministers should regulate UK retailers as the charity publishes new evidence that the Bangladeshi government is failing to enforce labour regulations on issues such as pay and trade union rights.

    The evidence,  in a briefing containing new research , including interviews with over 1200 garment workers, has been produced by the charity, the federation and the Alternative Movement for Resources and Freedom Society.

    In addition, the briefing shows how the Bangladeshi government fails to implement employees' rights. These include pay, overtime wages, working hours, days off, paid holidays, health and safety, union rights and freedom from bosses' abuse.

    Hana Begum, a Bangladeshi garment worker blacklisted by employers with other activists after a strike over layoffs and reduced benefit, will also address the meeting. Begum's decade in the garment industry still leaves her too poor to raise her six-year-old son Mehemedi, who lives with his grandmother 60 miles away.

    NOTE TO EDITORS: The meeting will take place from 6.30-7.45 pm today (Wednesday 17 June) at Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT. Besides Amin and Begum, other speakers will be War on Want executive director John Hilary, Graciela Romero, the charity's international programmes dir ector, and Niaz Alam, from London Pensions and Unite. Admission is free.

    CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)207 549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

     

     

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