In the last few weeks we have seen lockdown restrictions lifting all over England, where transmission rates are at least LOWER than before (though the extent varies depending on where you are). However we have also seen spikes of this in certain areas of the England, for varying reasons including population density, and crowded living and working conditions. One area which has stuck out in particular has been in Leicester, where “more than 1,000 people per 100,000 residents having been infected by Covid-19″ compared to in Dorset where there has been only 343 confirmed cases throughout this whole pandemic.” This has lead Leicester to have to go into a dreaded regional lockdown…
There is speculation that this could be down to the crowded living conditions many are in, but is also very likely to be due to vast number of people working in “sweatshops” in Leicester; where workers are being made to work in dangerous conditions while being subject to mistreatment. Here workers are being paid between £3.50- £4.00 an hour which is less than half the adult minimum wage, while a report conducted by Labor behind the Label (a workers rights group), reported that people were being forced to come into work even if they knew that themselves or a member of their household had been infected by coronavirus. Furthermore the physical conditions of these factories aren’t much better where most “are housed in dilapidated buildings, with little investment in building safety and modern ventilation”. Now it disgusts me that people are working day in, day out to produce this clothing- while being subject to such dangerous conditions. While journalist and reporter Luke Hanrahan filmed an employee bravely speaking about the inhumane conditions he was having to work in, all whilst being yelled at by an employer. Click here to watch this!
Also it looks like brands like Boohoo, will continue to be very prevalent within the fashion industry, with them experiencing a “45% revenue increase in the three months to May the 31st.” Therefore the use of quasi slavery around our cities will continue unless practices take a drastic change. And although there has been a bit of a decline in purchases from Boohoo as this cause has come to our attention, I cannot imagine that this will be long-lasting, as we found out a few years ago that both Primark and Topshop had been using children as young as 14 as slaves in their production.
It isn’t just in Leister however where workers are forced to work in such appalling conditions, in-fact all over the world, workers of all ages are being forced to “work for less than a few dollars a day” on a “14-16 hour shift” while “many sweatshop workers will eventually sleep, eat, live and quite possible die from exhaustion, malnutrition, physical abuse or worse.” While if this is bad enough, it is estimated that about 10 million CHILDREN are forced into modern slavery- to this day! Nevertheless it is most likely that the outcome of this is right on your doorstep, or to be specific right on your body- even if you don’t buy off places like Boohoo and Primark. Well known and heavily priced brands including Gap, Nike and Victoria secret also resort to people working in sweatshops to produce some of their clothing. It is estimated that there are over 40 million slaves around the world, and they are only those who are employed by the fashion industry. Meanwhile there are still over 10 million children slaves around the world.
Now I hope that everyone who has been made aware of this is either in shocked, or still feels numb but outraged, from being made aware of common working conditions within England, which you would have expected to have seen die down years ago. But just let this sink in. To this day, industries fueled by global capitalism are benefitting from slaves.
If I am honest, I often find myself in a shop or browsing around on an online website, contemplating on whether I ought to buy certain items of clothing or whether I should resist the brutal, moneymaking business and wait until I can see something sustainable. But often with little time on my hands, and little money to spare I often think that I can’t really afford the price or the time to spend on looking for more expensive sustainable options. Therefore I also plead guilty here. But realistically not everyone has the time or money to browse around for a pair of sustainably sourced trainers, which may take 5 times longer to find, and cost 10 ties the amount…
And what good would it really do if we were to boycott the fast fashion industry all together? Those who work in retail shops need their jobs, and if we stop buying from there all together then the job losses resulting from the pandemic will be even worse than forecasted.
Nonetheless surly there is another alternative, and the way I see it there must be. I read only today that “17% of young people questioned said they wouldn’t wear an outfit again if it had been on instream” (conducted by Hubbub foundation), which shows the extent of how our society is literally fueled by consumerism. Therefore if there is an item of clothing which you see displayed in a shop where you are uncertain about the practices, then ask yourself whether 1) You would wear this on several occasions and 2) if you could actually get a similar item from a sustainable source, such as from a charity or an independent business. If these aren’t the case, then you shouldn’t feel ashamed of buying from these firms, but with many being aware and vocal about these cruel practices, we should be able to form a force which is strong enough to reduce and eventually eradicate slavery. As by showing your concerns, emphasises that you are not happy with the practices by carried out by these brands. Meanwhile if you are able to make purchases from independent outlets or ones where you know that there has been no cruelty involved in making the items, then do just that. Because though it may cost you a little more, you are directly helping the economy more by buying it as you know the workers are being paid proper wages therefore the money is going to the people who need it more rather than to the filthy rich businesses owners, who most likely will grasp it, and the money will do little help otherwise. While I mean buying less of a product is obviously making a point, and the firms will simply have to listen if they want to remain in the industry. Oh, and products which have been sourced responsibly actually have the tendency to last longer…
Finally I would say to keep an eye out for petitions to do with this cause, because like I said in the previous post, when a huge number of people sign a petition on the same issue, eventually there will be a point where so many people sign so many, that at least something will have to be done. I have listed a few to get started, however I am hoping that more will be launched in the near future.
Petition to end modern Slavery
Protect the victims of Modern Slavery