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A recent Guardian investigation revealed that Spice Girls tee shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief’s “Gender Justice” campaign were made in a factory in Bangladesh where women earn the equivalent of 35p an hour. The 4000 machinists at the factory work from 8am until 5pm six days a week, but are regularly forced to do overtime, sometimes working 16-hour shifts that finish at midnight. The women claim to be verbally abused and harassed and conditions are so poor that employees often faint in the heat of the factory, while many experience neck and back problems from constantly crouching over their sewing machines.

This report comes a few weeks after the fifth anniversary of the horrifying Rana Plaza building collapse which killed 1138 Bangladeshi garment workers and highlighted the unsafe working conditions in many of these sweatshops.

Some 4 million Bangladeshi’s work in one of the 5000 factories producing clothes mostly for western brands. Local health and safety laws are difficult to enforce effectively and internationally funded inspection teams find it difficult to monitor the web of fabric makers, dyeing services and stitching work all located in regions with poor infrastructure. Peter McAllister Executive Director of Ethical Trading says probably the best guide to conditions is price “If something is very cheap you have to ask yourself is it really possible to make it in a factory that is run properly, with a living wage. “


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