Remembering the tragedy of Rana Plaza

Dhaka Savar Building CollapseA year ago the world learnt of the horror of the deaths of clothing workers in Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Bangladeshi government recorded 1,100 deaths, and 2,500 people were rescued. Dangerous buildings collapsed, fire escapes were locked, there was no safety procedure and the survivors lost their jobs and faced destitution.

The cheap clothes these workers were producing were destined for export to the Western world by companies such as Primark, which has just posted
record profits. Continue reading

UK Consumers for an Ethical High-Street

Many of us here in the UK pay little attention to where our clothes are made, who manufactures them and what sorts of conditions those workers are forced to endure. Shopping for clothes is a necessity and often a pastime, but rarely do we pause for thought and consider the impact of our habits and the practice of retailers on the millions of people worldwide employed in garment manufacturing.

This April the Rana Plaza tragedy served as a shocking awakening to the conditions in which the clothes that fill high street stores in the UK are often produced. The Rana Plaza, an eight story garment-factory in Dhaka, collapsed killing more than 1,100 people. The horrific images of the disintegrated factory and the devastating impact on human life were a terrible reminder of the risk that millions of people in the developing world face simply by going to work. Continue reading

Time for a cross-Europe living wage

Living WageThe latest official research from the Greater London Authority (GLA) demonstrates that the gap between rich and poor in London is growing. For example, the tenth of the capital’s population with the highest income have weekly income of over £1,000 while people in the lowest tenth have under £94 per week. We also know that London has suffered worse already from the impact of Coalition cuts than any area in the country other than the North East.

One of the best weapons in fighting poverty is to ensure that employers in both the public and private sectors pay a Living Wage. Labour in government made a good start with the statutory National Minimum Wage in 1998, but unfortunately not enough resources were put into enforcement.

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The massacre that “saved thousands of lives” – a response

The brutal actions of Germany’s SS in a Czech mining village one day in 1942 have rightly entered the history books as an exemplar of collective punishment, enacted largely to invoke mass terror among the population of an occupied country.

In deliberate planned revenge for the earlier assassination of a senior German official, ten truck loads of personnel from the elite Nazi unit descended on Lidice and calmly executed every male over 16. The exact number given as killed varies between sources, but one standard text on the Third Reich puts the final tally at 199. Continue reading

You don’t win friends with salad, but curry’s a different matter

A warning to begin with: stop reading if you’re hoping for an exploration of the politics of ethical nutrition. And now for something completely different.

The man on the Clapham omnibus, if he hasn’t heard of Refounding Labour, conference stitch-ups or the political culture in a certain London borough, might observe that the Labour party show themselves off as a pretty friendly bunch.

In recent years, our ‘friendships’ have filled volumes. Labour Friends of Israel, and Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, are perhaps the two best known examples. But recently we’ve had the Forces, Turkey, China, and the list continues.

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