British companies profiting from abuse: Report

December 5th, 2008 - 11:05 am ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 5 (IANS) A British charity says the country’s top retailers are selling clothes produced under inhuman conditions in Bangladesh and has called for a government legislation “to stop British companies profiting from abuse”.The charity, War on Want, has said in its latest report that workers in Bangladeshi factories are paid seven pence for an hour’s work, forced to labour for 80 hours a week and on top of it there are reports of physical and verbal abuse.

Its representatives interviewed 115 workers in six factories supplying clothes to top British retailers, Primark, Tesco and Asda. Their report says the working conditions are worse than in 2006 when they carried out their first investigation.

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, told The Guardian: “Primark, Asda and Tesco promise a living wage for their garment makers. But workers are actually worse off than when we exposed their exploitation two years ago. The UK government must bring in effective regulation to stop British companies profiting from abuse.”

The report says the employees needed a meagre £44.82 a month to take care of their family expenses, but were in reality getting only half that amount. They were being forced to work unpaid overtime.

The three retailers said they regularly audited their suppliers and were committed to ethical sourcing of their clothes. They criticised the charity for withholding the identity of the six factories it probed, but added they were willing to work with the charity to resolve the issue.

However, one of the Bangladeshi researchers who helped the charity’s probe, Khorshed Alam, said the retailers were not unaware of the exploitations. “These companies made promises that they would do something after the last report but two years later we see nothing has changed - in fact it has got worse.”

Alam has arrived in the UK to take part in a protest outside the Oxford Street store of Primark in London on Friday.

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