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Category Archives: Wage Slavery

Despite the Modern Slavery Act, poor labour conditions are prevalent in the fast fashion industry –

Posted: October 16, 2019 at 5:10 pm

British people are Europes fast fashion addicts. Consumption of new clothing is estimated to be higher in the UK than any other European country, and manufacturers are in engaged in an unceasing floral-printed arms-race to satisfy that demand.

Earlier this year the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC)investigated the social and environmental impact of disposable fast fashion. For the fashion industry, the report was damning.

Describing the way that we make and use clothing as unsustainable, the report attracted headlines for its focus on the environmental damage caused by fashion that people perceive as disposable.

Companies like ASOS and Boohoo came under criticism for their focus on saving money in the production process rather than sustainability, but the undeniable truth is that they are simply responding to public demand. Last year Boohoo released a range of 5 dresses, and despite howls of anguish from campaigners and competitors, the range has proven immensely popular with the companys millennial target market.

Modern Slavery

The cost is more than just environmental, however. The EACs report emphasised that forced labour was still present in contemporary supply chains, expressing particular concern about the use of child labour and prison labour.

Arguably most concerning was the comparatively high awareness of poor labour conditions within garment-making the globalisation of production has also to led to an apparent globalisation of indifference. The forced labour within cotton production can be found in far-off Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, whereas Anti-Slavery International campaigner Kate Elsayed-Ali also highlighted the Sumangali system practiced in India to illustrate the often gendered nature of forced and child labour.

Tempting though it might be, however, to dismiss modern slavery as an overseas problem, to do so would grossly mischaracterise the situation.

A Made in the UK label may assuage the worries of concerned consumers, but the Committee noted the open secret that there were British factories paying wages well below the legal level. Leicester has the dubious honour of being Britains fast fashion capital, with a number of garment factories paying staff well below the minimum wage, often in illegally sub-standard working conditions.

The fact that such practices have a presence in the UK may surprise some observers. The much-vaunted Modern Slavery Act contains a clause relating directly to transparency in supply chains; businesses with a turnover of more than 36m required to produce a statement setting out the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that modern slavery is not taking place in their business or supply chain.

The Government believes that this is sufficient, claiming that the Act has increased transparency in supply chains. However, concerns have been raised by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the Government does not monitor whether statements made under the Modern Slavery Act comply with the legislation and the Government has never used its powers to penalise companies that do not comply.

Compliance is far from universal - research at Leeds University identified 24 leading retailers, including Foot Locker and Valentino, who are non-compliant with the Modern Slavery Act by not making available their modern slavery statements as of December 2018.

Governmental Response So Far

Despite the EACs damning conclusions, May this year saw the Government respond with comparative indifference. They rejected each of the reports recommendations, pointing out their commitment to the rising minimum wage and the actions of the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

On the topic of public procurement, the official response to the report highlighted that bidders for Government contracts are now required to show their compliance and the Government believes these measures are sufficient to root out Modern Slavery within the context of public contracts.

Behavioural change was another area in which the Government claimed to be acting proportionately. They noted a series of events held in the UK to boost environmental awareness and insisted that children were educated on the topic of sustainability throughout their school lives.

Chair of the Committee Mary Creagh was withering in her criticism of the Government response, claiming that Ministers had failed to acknowledge the severity and urgency of the environmental crisis. She repeated her calls for greater transparency within the supply chains of big fashion companies and accused some of them of flouting the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

The Future Direction of Policy

Of course, much has changed since the summer, with a new Prime Minister, a new Cabinet and a new set of political priorities. The Government has responded to growing public concerns about the climate crisis by emphasising their environmental record but have, so far, remained comparatively reticent in the area of sustainable fashion.

More action has been seen in combatting low domestic wages - over Conference season, the Chancellor Sajid Javid announced a dramatic increase in the minimum wage, taking it to two-thirds of median earnings by April 2024, for all workers aged 21 and over.

However, campaigners have warned that this may prove ineffectual in the case of fashion supply chains, due to the disproportionately globalised nature of the work force and the fact that some British factories have been flatly ignoring the existing rules for many years.

Only four years after the landmark Modern Slavery Act, there remains a clear prevalence of unsustainable environmental and social practices in the sector. Ultimately, this is unlikely to change dramatically until it becomes politically expedient for it to move up the agenda, and, given the overwhelming sense of indifference towards the issue amongst the general public, this seems a long way away.

If your organisation needs to keep abreast of political and policy developments, Dods Monitoring can offer intelligence to keep you one step ahead. Find our more HERE.

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Despite the Modern Slavery Act, poor labour conditions are prevalent in the fast fashion industry -

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Human trafficking is happening on our doorstep, says head of Sheffield anti-slavery charity – Yorkshire Post

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Friday is Anti-Slavery Day but modern-day slavery is still destroying lives. Grace Hammond speaks to a victim and the charity trying to help her.

Sharon endured the ultimate betrayal. She was enticed to the UK with false promises, then manipulated into a life of slavery by a member of her own family. She came to the Yorkshire and Humber area from Ghana with dreams of becoming an accountant.

My country is beautiful but there are no opportunities for anyone and there is corruption, says Sharon, not her real name, who is now 27. I wanted to be an accountant. I managed to study for an accountancy diploma. But there was no chance of getting any further. I was sat at home, helping my mum and feeling Id just wasted three years of study.

When my cousin, who was living in the UK, told me about her successful life, and promised to help me to get into college near her, I was really excited.

She said I could stay with her and her family and offered to organise my visa and pay for my flight. People will say this sounded too good to be true but I had known her all my life; I trusted her totally.

Sharon moved into her cousins home. She was given a mattress on the floor in the childrens bedroom, but she was told she would need to wait until September to start college, and asked to work in her cousins business in the meantime.

I didnt mind. I felt it was the least I could do to repay her for her kindness, she says. I worked six days a week until late each day, without receiving a penny. I felt very grateful to them. I didnt want to make a fuss. But then I was asked to do the household chores on top of my job, and take the children to school. Without realising it, I had become the familys unpaid servant and totally dependent on them. I would have liked to go out to make friends, but without money it was impossible. I think that was the plan to isolate me. I became less and less confident.

When the cousins business collapsed, there was no escape for Sharon. She was given false identity papers and a job was found for her.

I didnt have a say in it. They told me I needed to do it to pay for my college course, and living expenses while I studied. I could see their point so went along with it. Around her household duties, she worked in a clothing warehouse. She has no idea how much she was earning, her wages went straight into her cousins bank account.

She told me she was saving the money for me. But whenever I asked about applying for my college place, she would tell me I wasnt ready. My English wasnt good enough, I needed to be more settled here. There was always a reason. I had worked at the warehouse for over a year when I asked my cousin how much had been saved for me and where the money was. She got very angry and said I owed her money for the paperwork, my airfare and my room in her house. She always made me feel I should be grateful to her.

Eventually Sharon confided in a friend at the factory, who helped her to get her payment details changed at the warehouse. That meant she would receive her next wage. It would give her the means to escape from her cousin.

I was really frightened; I knew as soon as my wages didnt drop into her account she would realise what I had done. I sneaked out of her house and went to stay with my work friend.

Sure enough, the cousin came to the warehouse and confronted Sharon, then told factory bosses and the police that it was Sharon who had acted fraudulently.

She said I had stolen her documents and identity. My manager called the police and I was put in a cell overnight. They were more interested in the fact that I only had a visitors visa which had expired and reported me to immigration authorities.

A document of deportation was issued and I was terrified. I told them I was the victim and wanted to claim asylum.

As soon as the police released her, she went to ground. With no income and no home, she slept on the sofas of her former workmates for two years.

Eventually she met a man and moved into his home. She told him about her cousin and he took her to a lawyer, who contacted immigration services.

I gave them as much information as I could. I told them my cousin had received all of my wages for over a year.

At an initial assessment for claiming asylum, it was decided there were reasonable grounds to identify Sharon as a victim of human trafficking and was referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) the system by which victims of modern slavery are identified and provided with support. She was given the Salvation Armys specialist support for victims of modern slavery. By this time she had a daughter and her relationship had broken down. The Home Office found them an apartment. I had a place no one could kick me out of. I felt safe.

The Salvation Army introduced Sharon to the Sheffield charity City Hearts. Her City Hearts caseworker gave her emotional support and counselling. She was putin touch with support services for refugees and asylum seekers and a church, where she made friends. Because she is recognised as a potential victim, she is allowed to stay in the UK pending a verdict on her status. It should take 47 days she has been waiting since 2017. She is not allowed to work but has enrolled at catering college and hopes to become a cook. She lives off a weekly allowance of 37.75 from the National Asylum Seeker Service and a temporary additional amount of 27.25 from the NRM.

Amy Harrison, senior anti- human trafficking caseworker at City Hearts, says: Sharon is stuck in the system somewhere and while she waits in limbo, we are supporting her. She is working towards a future, but where that future will be is unknown.

CEO of Sheffield charity City Hearts, Ed Newton, said: People should not imagine trafficking only exists in major cities like London. It is happening right now, on our doorsteps, in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.

According to the charity, latest statistics indicate there are as many as 136,000 modern-day slaves in the UK.

Founded in Sheffield 14 years ago, City Hearts aims to restore the lives of people rescued from trafficking and modern slavery. Nationally recognised for its work with over 2,000 survivors in the last five years, the organisation has grown dramatically to cope with the explosion in trafficking in 2018 6,993 were referred into the National Referral Mechanism, a 36 per cent rise from 2017.

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Human trafficking is happening on our doorstep, says head of Sheffield anti-slavery charity - Yorkshire Post

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Nail bars and car washes: Consumers must not ignore modern slavery – HeraldScotland

Posted: at 5:10 pm

WHEN was the last time I washed my own car? I cant remember.

Im sure there are people who enjoy the chore - the routine of it, the pride in the finished result, care given to their pride-and-joy vehicle. No thanks.

Why find space in ones busy schedule for hard labour when for a mere 4.50 you can have five men clean your car til it's glinting?

Well, because if it seems too good to be true then its likely to be too good to be true.

It doesnt take a great deal of deep thought to work out that a 4.50 payment for a hand car wash carried out by five people means those five people are not leaving at the end of each day with a minimum wage pay packet.

More likely, a 4.50 car wash means those five people are being exploited as cheap labour. Possibly they are victims of modern slavery, perhaps they have been trafficked.

But, given the proliferation of hand car washes and the queues at them daily - and nightly, many of the car washes are open long hours - this fact is obviously easy enough for people to turn a blind eye to.

Its interesting that modern day slavery has entered the public consciousness with regards to the clothing industry. We know quite well that our cheap clothes - the 1.50 swimsuit, the 6 pair of jeans - come at a price that is far from economic. There is shock when big name, reputable brands are found to be churning out clothes in factories where workers are paid 50p an hour to toil in squalid conditions.

Boycott, comes the cry.

Just yesterday an expos in the Guardian newspaper alleged that workers in a factory making clothing for the high end active wear brand Lululemon are being subjected to cruel treatment - beatings, verbal abuse and pressure to work overtime. They are paid, it is claimed, around 85 a month, which is less than the cost of one pair of Lululemon leggings.

The company has said it will launch an immediate investigation, no doubt acting swiftly and sharply because it knows the gross ill treatment of Bangladeshi female factory workers will play extremely badly with its middle class, socially aware customer base. Will boycott become the cry for Lululemon?

Yet when poor working conditions exist on our doorstep, we somehow find it easier to overlook.

Nail bars are another consumer convenience where modern day slavery proliferates. They satisfy the desire for a bargain, make you feel good and theres no inconvenience of having to book ahead for an appointment. In the current financial climate, women have less money to spend on beauty treats and so something like a regular manicure is an addictive temptation for some.

But is it ethical to continue to go to a nail bar if you believe you may be participating in exploitation? Its easy for me to ask: the one and only time Ive set foot in a nail bar was accompanying a Police Scotland operation on human trafficking. If I was a woman keen on regular manicures and pedicures, would I be, as with the car washes, uncomfortable but still settling down for a file and polish?

The restructuring of how we shop has created an environment in which it is easy for exploitation to go unchecked. As with nail bars satisfying the need for a quick, cheap treatment, petrol stations are under pressure as consumers find it more convenient to fill up at supermarket petrol pumps rather than make two journeys to two locations.

This means a decrease in the number of mechanical car washes and an increase in vacant space to be taken over by... exploitative hand car washes. Which is not to say that all car washes are exploitative. The UK body the Car Wash Advisory Service has an accreditation scheme, WashMark, that drivers can look out for.

Drivers and nail bar customers can also easily look out for the signs of exploitation: workers who cant communicate with customers in English, where the staff appear withdrawn or very young, where they are living in houses of multiple occupancy.

A high profile court case last week saw four members of a gang found guilty of trafficking young Roma women and girls from Slovakia to Govanhill, to flats just a couple of streets away from where I live. One of the young women was sold into a sham marriage for 10,000 outside a branch of Primark in Glasgow city centre. The story captured readers in high numbers, likely from the shock of having such a heinous crime against such a familiar background.

Yet exploitation is happening all around us and it needs consumers to be alert to the issue in order to tackle it.

The Scottish Government commissioned a public survey this year on public responses to human trafficking. It found that respondents saw the crime as less of an issue in Scotland than overseas. In 2018, 16 per cent of people saw modern slavery as an issue in Scotland, falling to 13 per cent this year.

People were far more likely to believe modern slavery to be an issue in Europe and the rest of the world - showing an awareness of the subject but a belief that it doesnt happen here. Some 58 per cent of respondents admitted to a low level of understanding of human trafficking.

At an event a few years ago I was chatting to a chap who said he owned a handful of car washes at different locations in the west of Scotland. He was quite confident in the ethics of his working practice, saying all his staff earned 40 for a 10 hour day and were given a hot meal at lunchtime.

At the time minimum wage would have been about 6.50 per hour - he was proudly shorting his staff by nearly 40 per cent of their wages. A hot meal though, so his conscience was clear.

The justification he gave to me was the men he employed would otherwise be out of work. With little English, no qualifications and no support networks in Scotland, they would be destitute. He saw exploitation as, in fact, a gift to his staff, a generous springboard into a better life.

That was the last time I visited the hand car wash. Exploiting fellow human beings for the sake of enjoying cheap little luxuries? Theres no excuse.

As consumers we must use our economic power for good.

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Nail bars and car washes: Consumers must not ignore modern slavery - HeraldScotland

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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Central Florida’s hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of…

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Were going to revisit a topic from last weeks commentary because its of vital importance. Last week, we told you how the president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Carol Dover, decried the words of attorney John Morgan, who compared Floridas minimum wage to slave wages.

While Morgan is no pauper, its important to note that Dover, whose response diverted attention with empty words about slavery and human trafficking, herself is paid more than $620,000 a year for her job.

As has been widely reported year after year, Central Floridas hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of all major metros in the U.S.

Restaurants, at the behest of organizations like Dovers and lobbyists for hotel and service industries, pay servers as low as $5.44 per hour, not the $8.46 minimum other employers pay, because restaurants are allowed to let servers tips make up the remaining $3.02 an hour.

While tips are an unstable source of income that only serves to keep menu prices low for restaurant owners, working as a lobbyist to keep restaurant employees pay as low as possible is one of the very best ways to get rich in Florida.


From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Central Florida's hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of...

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Regina King on fighting white supremacists in Watchmen: ‘My community is living this story’ – The Guardian

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Regina King had a hard time convincing some of her friends about Watchmen, her new HBO series inspired by the DC comic book of the same name and featuring the kind of details that make some people run for the exits: time travel, kung-fu fighting, masks and thinly veiled political allegory. Girl, dont do this, said one friend. King could only smile and agree.

But we would all do well to watch King in anything. At 48, she is in her prime. While filming Watchmen, King won the best supporting actress Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the James Baldwin novel. For years, she has been turning out quietly devastating portraits in the movies Jerry Maguire and Ray, in the TV show Southland with little public recognition. Now she has her pick of roles. I appreciate winning the Oscar, she says, but thats not the ultimate goal. I should be able to use it as currency moving forward.

King was not familiar with the original Watchmen material, nor the 2009 Zack Snyder movie (her 23-year-old son Ian is more excited about this role than any of Kings previous parts). But once she read the script, she was enthused. In Damon Lindelofs adaptation, the tales 1950s cold-war storyline is spun into a look at the rise of a white supremacist group in a parallel US. King plays Angela Abar, a cop with superhuman fighting skills and an amazing French Lieutenants Woman-style cape: not the kind of part she usually gets.

King, who in a New York hotel room is slight and smiling, powers through the series like a wrecking ball. She tuned into the fantasy landscape pretty quickly, even quibbling with wardrobe over the practicality of each costume. Originally, her mask was so cumbersome it seemed to defy even the tenuous reality of a comic-book tale. I was like, This is not good for the superhero peripheral! I cant see if somethings coming you have to tell me! So our wardrobe designer had a great idea: what if it was painted on? It was hell on her skin, but its dynamite on screen.

Lindelof was co-creator of Lost and the recent HBO hit The Leftovers. Watchmen has that same compelling narrative, the story of men with bamboo torches trying to eliminate black people. In the current climate, this parallel America feels very like the real thing. One of Lindelofs triggers, says King, was Ta-Nehisi Coatess 2014 article for the Atlantic, The Case for Reparations, addressing the unacknowledged fall-out from slavery. She also cites the way policing is happening here in the States with, particularly, black men.

To this end, Watchmen is, oddly, of a piece with Beale Street, Baldwins expos of the split-screen reality in the US between white people and people of colour although Watchmen doesnt seem expressly political to King. With a laugh, she says: Being black, its part of my life. Whats happened is that Trump has just emboldened people. They were always there, feeling the way theyve been feeling, but now, oh my gosh. There are a lot of people white friends I have who have had this wedge in their families. They knew maybe a family member was a little less progressive, but whoa! Now theyre finding out their views were so far apart.

Trump has just emboldened people. They were always there, feeling the way theyve been feeling, but now, oh my gosh

Meanwhile, the idea of white supremacy as a guerrilla force is not exactly fantastical, given the extent such militias play in US history. Its easy to pretend that something didnt exist if youre not talking about it, says King. Within our community, yes, were talking about it all the time, because were living it generation to generation. But for a lot of white Americans, ignorance is bliss. For them.

King grew up in California, and wanted to be a dentist. This was not a passing phase. She loved going to her dentist so much, it seemed for many years to be the only possible career path. I would always hear horror stories about the dentist, but not mine. His dental assistant was his wife, Babe, and she had this white hair that looked like cotton candy. I always looked forward to going. Id floss to impress him. He made the experience fun. He made me understand how important your periodontal situation is. She bursts out laughing. He had a great set of teeth and Babe had a great set of teeth! So whenever I would see people without a great set of teeth Id be like, Ew!

Dont ever live in Britain, I say. Yeah, I know. Again she hoots with laughter. Not a lot of good teeth there.

King had acted in school, but it wasnt until she got to theUniversity of Southern California that it became clear to her not only that dental work wasnt in her future, but that what she should do was drop out to act. It amazes her now that she made this decision with no information to back it up. She simply knew it was the right thing to do, a strong intuition foreshadowing a steeliness that would become apparent 30 years later in her most famous roles. Her parents werent happy. My mom is a teacher and showed her disappointment, she says, but not enough that it made me decide to go back.

She was so young and inexperienced that for years, in roles she took in movies such as Boyz N the Hood and Mighty Joe Young, she had no idea of pay scale, or whether she was receiving a fair income relative to others on set. I wasnt focused on that, she says. It wasnt until I was in my 30s that I even stopped to consider the wage gap. It was something as simple as hearing a male actor say something either about his per diem, or something else and I was like, Wait! Hold up my part is way bigger than yours. No one talked about it in the early days? Well, things have been designed so that we dont.

King has been a supporter of Times Up, the campaign to equalise pay and conditions for women in Hollywood. Thats why this is a pretty exciting time. If Im blessed enough to have a granddaughter, shell come in knowing this is how its going to be. I feel like its diminishing it by calling it a movement. Its witnessing a shift, a life change. Thats how I look at it.

Its hard to convince people there is an audience that wants quiet stories

Crucially, she says, expectations have changed: theres a suspicion that, just as sexual harassment will come back to bite you, so will pay differences. No one wants their filthy past, their dirty little secret, to come out. A lot of people in these positions of power white men dont even realise it was a problem, or something you should feel embarrassed about.

King is glad she had a lot of solid success before she won the Oscar, playing supporting roles in big movies. Ive heard people say, Oh, you were robbed with Jerry Maguire, or Ray. But I dont think I wouldve had an appreciation for the art, in the way I do, if it had happened earlier.

Beale Street was a different experience. Oh, gosh, says King, who found it so personal that talking about it still makes her emotional. Astonishingly, it was the first movie adaptation of a Baldwin novel, a film that remained a quiet, literary piece despite the starriness of its cast and of its director, Barry Jenkins, fresh from his Oscar win for Moonlight the previous year. For King, who played Sharon Rivers, the mother of a young woman whose fiance is wrongly imprisoned for rape, it was everything: a love story, an indictment of the criminal justice system, and part of the vast, untold history of black life in the US. Were in a time when film is so loud and the audience is looking for shocking. Its hard to convince people that there is an audience out there that wants quiet stories.

Being in her 40s, she says, brings a confidence to go against the grain. She has started her own production company, vowing to staff all her projects with a minimum of 50% women. King wonders if she should have kept quiet about that, since she now gets asked about it every five minutes and she has hardly hired anybody yet. But at the end of the day, its holding my feet to the fire.

So does she feel in her prime? For the most part, body-wise, I dont feel different than when I was in my 20s, she says. Only when I hurt something, because it takes so long to get back. But the wisdom and regard for whats important is different now. In my 20s, that I-dont-give-a-fuck attitude is great. It helps you go out on a ledge and let your feet dangle down and not even think about it.

Still, it is nothing compared with the thrill of having better judgment: Being in your 40s and having the wherewithal to know, Yeah, maybe not that ledge. She roars with laughter.

Watchmen is on HBO in the US from 20 October and on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the UK from 21 October.

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Regina King on fighting white supremacists in Watchmen: 'My community is living this story' - The Guardian

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Car washes in Bexhill, Northiam and Robertsbridge issued warnings over treatment of staff – Bexhill Observer

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Operators of five car washes in Rother have been warned over failures in how they treat their staff, according to a council spokesman.

Inspections by Rother District Council (RDC) found all of them were failing to comply with health and safety legislation or to pay their workers the minimum wage.

Breaches included failure to provide basic safety equipment such as appropriate safety footwear, waterproof clothing and basic eye protection for mixing chemicals, and failure to carry out risk assessments.

The council is highlighting the issue to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day on Friday (October 18), a national initiative aimed at raising awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Cllr Jay Brewerton, district council cabinet member for safer communities, said: People may not realise that modern slavery encompasses exploiting workers by failing to treat them in accordance with the law.

The people who wash our cars work incredibly hard for very long hours and are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage and to be given appropriate workwear to enable them to do their job safely.

Anti-Slavery Day is a good opportunity to highlight this issue and to send a clear message to employers who flout the law and mistreat their staff that well use all powers available to us to ensure they comply.

The council has powers to issue Community Protection Notices (CPNs) to businesses and individuals responsible for persistent unreasonable behaviour that has a negative impact on workers quality of life.

Warning letters a precursor to a formal CPN were issued to operators of five car washes in Rother. These were Dazzle Hand Car Wash and Valeting Service in Terminus Road, Bexhill; Victoria Car Wash in Victoria Road, Bexhill; Johns Cross Hand Car Wash in Battle Road, Robertsbridge; A21 Car Wash in London Road, Hurst Green; and Unigate Car Wash in Station Road, Northiam.

Unigate Car Wash in Northiam has subsequently been issued with a full CPN for failing to comply with the requirements of the warning letter.

Businesses which fail to comply with a CPN are issued with a fixed penalty notice and if they fail to pay can be prosecuted in magistrates court, where a fine of up to 20,000 can be issued.

Modern slavery includes a wide range of abuse and exploitation including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.

More information about modern slavery and how to report it is at

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Revive Fashion Show combats human trafficking, fast-fashion – UW Badger Herald

Posted: at 5:10 pm

The verb revive means to restore to life or consciousness or to regain life or strength. The first-ever Revive Fashion Show on Oct. 6 did exactly that.

Hosted and sponsored by Fair Indigo, an ethical and sustainable clothing company based in Madison, all of the proceeds from the show benefit the Dressember Foundation.

Dressember, a non-profit organization founded by Blythe Hill, provides education, life skills, training, medical treatment and aftercare to the survivors of human trafficking. Hill initially started to hear about human trafficking in 2005 when she learned that slavery continues to exist in every city in the world, including all fifty states.

UW professor applies research on sex, human trafficking to help local victimsThe University of Wisconsin Campus Womens Center hosted UW gender and womens studies professor Araceli Alonso Thursday to discuss her Read

According to the foundation, approximately 35 million people are currently confined to slavery, 70% of them being women. This is becoming the worlds fastest-growing criminal industry and its flourishing. Because of what we know as fast fashion in the clothing industry, society is purchasing 400% more clothing today than we did 20 years ago.

Not only this, but the workers making these clothes earn just 1-3% of the retail price of an item. Statistics such as these are what inspired the Revive fashion show to come to fruition.

We at Fair Indigo really realized how Dressember and Fair Indigo have been combating this issue separately and in different ways for years, Stacy Imhoff, a co-organizer for the Revive Fashion Show, said. We thought it was a great opportunity to get our two like-minded organizations together to bring more awareness to the issue of ethical and fair trade fashion.

As a graduate of the University of Wisconsins textile and apparel design program, Imhoff approached other women who had also graduated from the program in addition to harmonious brands and businesses within the community. The event had a mix of different brands, vendors and models participating, all of which were proponents of ethical fashion.

Spring fashion trends that wont break the bankIm going to be honest, feeding my bubble tea and customizable salad addictions costs more money than I am willing Read

At this family-friendly event, vendors were eager to educate the public about the benefits of this cause.

A pop-up market before the show featured handmade ethical goods from makers and brands around the area, where a portion of the proceeds would go towards the Dressember Foundation.

Here, guests of the event were immediately engrossed in an environment full of passion and enthusiasm to inform individuals about the cornerstone of Fair Indigo and Dressember: ethical fashion.

Ethical fashion the exact opposite of slave labor that is employed to make cheap fast-fashion clothing is what Fair Indigo is all about, Imhoff said. We pay the people who make our clothes a fair, living wage and ensure they have clean and safe working conditions and are treated with respect.

These brands intend to stray away from the expectation of inexpensive and disposable clothing, which causes a high demand for cheap labor.

[Cheaply made clothing] also results in more waste more clothes are thrown away or donated to second-hand shops that are then exported to other countries for resale or disposal. If we can find a way to reuse what we already have, there is less demand for cheap labor. Plus its just generally better for our environment too, Imhoff said.

One stand at the market was home to Lev Apparel company where founder Krystle Marks said she employs women from New Delhi, India at a fair living wage to make clothing. This pulls the women out of poverty while empowering them to contribute to a product with a purpose.

Lack of women in entrepreneurship hurts businesses, start-ups, panel of female entrepreneurs sayLocal female entrepreneurs shared their experience and expertise in a panel Thursday night. The panel, hosted by University of Wisconsin Read

Following the pop-up market, guests gathered around the runway to witness models dressed in unique, fashion-forward, recycled garments. Models wore pieces made of everything ranging from neckties to mens collared shirts to old tablecloths.

Fabric that was otherwise deemed unwearable was converted into hand-painted art. The oohs and ahs were audible as each piece was presented and smiles lit up the room.

We at Fair Indigo see this as a community-building event to bring like-minded organizations and people together around a common goal, Imhoff said in response to her hopes for the fundraiser. Its been a really fun event to organize and see how excited people are to participate.

What started as a style challenge for a college student in need of a creative outlet ultimately became a global campaign stretching across over 115,000 supporters, 45 countries and six continents and continues to grow. As the Dressember Foundation website says, Dressember is more than a dress.

Join thousands of advocates around the world by wearing a dress or tie every day this December as a symbol of liberty and empowerment to declare inherent dignity for all people, a line from one of the videos played during the fashion show.

According to a video from Dressember at the fashion show, For one month, with a dress as our flag, we will carve a path to a better future for women everywhere.

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Deliveroo riders boycott Wagamama amid pay concerns – The Tab

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Theres a very good reason you couldnt get your Katsu curry last week

Last week, around 80 Deliveroo riders refused to take orders from Wagamama on the Triangle and at Cabot, amid concerns about pay.

According to the organiser of the strike, Joseph Nunes, 43, riders can wait up to 25 minutes in a Wagamama restaurant while they prepare the food.

The wasted (and unpaid) time means that riders can do significantly fewer trips.

We all dread the waiting time at Wagamama. Its not fair on the riders. Nunes told The Bristol Post.

While the minimum wage for an over-25 is 8.21, Nunes claims to make 6 per hour when you factor in petrol costs, moped maintenance and insurance. He described his working conditions as similar to slavery.

The strike occurred on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, following a 100-strong strike concerning pay that occurred on 21st of September.

A spokesperson for Deliveroo said: Deliveroo works closely with our restaurant partners and the riders we work with to make sure we have an efficient and reliable service.

Deliveroo has recently made changes to rider fees so riders are paid more for longer distance deliveries and wait times at restaurants are taken into consideration when calculating how much riders are paid.

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After a year in Kennett Square, this business gets a ‘Clean Slate’ – southern chester county weeklies

Posted: at 5:10 pm

KENNETT SQUAREEvery product has a maker, and every maker has a story, says Clean Slate Goods owner Kari Matthews.

Shes passionate about carrying beautiful, handmade goods that her customers will love and that also create jobs for artisans in vulnerable circumstances. As shes learned more about communities of designers and makers around the world, shes heard many stories and been inspired by the amazing transformation that happens when people have dignified work and earn a fair, livable wage.

Clean Slate Goods opened last year, tucked into its cozy spot around the corner from State Street on North Union.

I was happy and comfortable there, Kari says, and the last thing on my mind was a move. But when the landlord mentioned that the larger, centrally located location where the landmark State and Union had been was becoming available, she said, Im not interestedtell me about the space. She smiles. But the doors continued to open, and although I couldnt quite imagine another renovation so soon after the last one, it became clear that Id regret it if I didnt take the opportunity.

After a chaotic month of renovation and a nail-biting, down-to-the-wire photo finish, she opened on August 1st. She couldnt have done it without help from her husband, staff, small group Bible study members, friends in the Kennett community, and my mom, who was here every day, she says. Now the bright, beautifully renovated shop is the newest addition to State Streets vibrant shopping scene.

Kari has refined her vision for Clean Slate Goods over the past year. Im a little more maker-focused, she says. I make sure that every brand I carry is helping artisans who lack opportunity for dignified jobs. Staying true to such a mission entails challenges.

There are so many for-good brands, she says. Personally, I want to help every good cause out therefrom planting trees and cleaning up the oceans to supporting local artisans. But she knows if she tries to save everyone she wont help anyone. Its cool how God puts different passions on different peoples hearts so we as individuals dont have to do it all, she says. Instead, we work together as a community.

Kari lives in West Chester with her husband Jason, who describes himself as a soccer dad, and their three sons. The shop, she says with a smile, gives her girl time. Shes found a caring community here in Kennett Square and the perfect home for Clean Slate Goods. Kennett Square is beyond cool, she says.

Part of what fuels Karis passion for the artisans whose work she carries is her own experience as a maker. I know what goes into creating handmade goods, she says, and I also know how difficult and important it is to find the right marketplace for them.

Clean Slate Goods began in 2014 as Clean Slate Designs, as Kari created home dcor pieces from reclaimed wood and sold her products at local vendor shows. As her knowledge of, and appreciation for, handmade goods grew, she also began to learn more about companies around the world that were training individuals in marginalized communities and providing them with sustainable employment.

She partnered with some of these companies to sell their goods alongside her own work at shows and on her website. Her growing desire to be able to do good and make a lasting difference for these artisans developed into Clean Slate Goods.

The cohesive aesthetic of the store is also critical. Pity sales only go so far, Kari says. In order for this market to be sustainable for the makers, they have to create goods that are high quality and that people want to buy. Often designers work with artisans to help them create product lines that are on trend.

These two piecescreating jobs that pay fair wages as well as a high design aesthetic and qualityare my equation for accepting a brand, Kari says. Customers often come to Clean Slate to find the perfect, one-of-kind giftsomething they know the recipient will actually love.

She carries such a great variety of unique products at affordable price points that people can find a great gift, with a story behind it, for anyone on their list. Its almost a two-for-one gift, she says, because buying a handmade product truly impacts the life of the person who made it.

Supporting these artisans is a step beyond charity. When people in vulnerable communities receive a fair wage, theyre able to bring themselves and their families out of crushing circumstances including poverty, addiction, incarceration, and prostitution. The point is not to make us feel good about ourselves because were helping the poor; the point is to be conscious of the makers behind the products we buy and give them the diginity they deserve, Kari says. Talent is evenly distributedopportunity is not.

She enjoys highlighting the makers behind the products and sharing their amazing stories. And, she says, as we buy their products we can be part of their stories too. One of the new brands shes carrying, Haiti Design Co., employs over 150 people and also helps to provide resources including healthcare and artisan entrepreneur training and mentorship so people can start their own businesses.

Their products, including leather goods and beaded earrings, marry design with purpose. We can tend to be more reactive in the aid we give to vulnerable communities, Kari says, but staying in a place and figuring out how to help create sustainability in that context is hard work. There are many different and inspiring models for creating this sustainability. Instead of operating their own factories, for example, ABLE supports people in Ethiopia who already have factories by working with them. Causegear is yet another brand for good, and purchasing one of their beautiful and fashionable bags helps support and free women in South Asia from slavery and poverty.

Bags are our bread and butter, Kari says, and currently Clean Slate carries ten different brands of one-of-a-kind bags. She also carries a wide range of jewelry as well as soap, candles, beauty products, home accessories, toys, and more. In her new, expanded space shes looking forward to adding a few key staple pieces of clothing made by artisans. A selection of fun and heartfelt handmade cards for every occasion makes Clean Slate Goods a one-stop-shop for gift giving.

Kari also wants Clean Slate Goods to be a place where people from the community can gather and be creative together, and she hopes to offer a creative workshop every month. After her Oct. 3 chocolate tasting with Estelle Tracy, plans are in the works for succulent and Christmas ornament workshops. Sign up for the Clean Slate Goods newsletter at and follow her @cleanslategoods

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Research links UK supermarkets to abuse of farm and plantation workers – Retail Insight Network

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Some farms and plantations that supply UK supermarket giants are being linked to poor pay and harsh working conditions, according to new research by charity Oxfams global Behind the Barcodes campaign.

The research found that workers in India, Brazil and five other countries are being exploited during the production of tea or fruit for import to retailers including Lidl, Aldi, Sainsburys, Tesco and Morrisons.

Interviews with workers across 50 tea plantations in Assam found that a lack of access to toilets and safe drinking water spreads typhoid and cholera among workers. Wages are also low, with women workers being the lowest paid when doing labour-intensive jobs, causing them to be on ration cards from the government.

The supermarkets confirmed they source their own brand tea from the companies visited in Oxfams research, with Lidl confirming they source their tea from the Assam region. The supermarkets also take the largest share of the price of the tea bought by consumers, with workers collectively receiving 3p of the 79p pence paid by consumers.

Oxfam ethical trade manager Rachel Wilshaw said: Despite some pockets of good practice, supermarkets relentless pursuit of profits continues to fuel poverty and human rights abuses in their supply chains. Supermarkets must do more to end exploitation, pay all their workers a living wage, ensure women get a fair deal and be more transparent about where they source their products.

Supermarkets are snapping up the lions share of the price we pay at the till but the workers who toil for hours to harvest tea and fruit face inhumane working conditions and are paid so little they cant even feed their families.

Dun & Bradstreet head of product and strategy Chris Laws said: With more than 40 million people living in some form of modern slavery in the world today, this problem requires a global situation which has NGOs, governments and businesses working together. Oxfams research has shone a spotlight on how this problem allegedly extends to some of the biggest retailers in the UK through their supply chains and the call for more supply chain transparency to identify and address risks has never been louder.

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