Bangladeshi workers exploited to stock British discount chains: report

LONDON, Dec 8, 2006 (AFP) – Garment workers in Bangladesh are working 80 hours a week for just five pence (seven euro cents, nine cents) an hour to produce cheap clothes for British consumers, a report claimed Friday.

Anti-poverty charity War on Want said the employees were also having to endure poor working conditions to provide clothes that end up in British supermarkets Tesco and Asda’s “George” range and budget retailer Primark.

Its report, entitled “Fashion Victims”, is based on research at six Bangladeshi factories in the capital Dhaka, which employ more than 5,000 workers, most of them women.

The charity interviewed 60 women.
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The charity claimed that despite all three companies having made public commitments to paying a living wage to suppliers of at least 22 pounds per month, starting wages were as little as eight pounds.

Better paid sewing machine operators received 16 pounds per month, which the charity calculated as the equivalent of five pence per hour for the average 80-hour working week.

In real terms, the minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh halved during the 1990s, with many complaining their pay is too low to cover food, housing and health costs.

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