The real price of cheap labour

On Saturday evening a fire ripped through a clothing factory near the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, killing at least 117 people and sending workers jumping out of the nine-storey textile factory.According to the factories website, Tazreen produced for a host of well-known brand names from Europe and the US.  Campaigners claim Western firms making clothes in Bangladesh hide behind inadequate safety audits to help drive down costs.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), an Amsterdam-based textile rights group, says international brands have shown negligence in failing to address the safety issues highlighted by previous fires, and that this leaves them with responsibility for yet another tragic loss of life.

The big brands including the European clothing store C&A and the giant US retailer Walmart say they have been working with their Bangladeshi partners to improve standards. Around 700 garment workers have been killed in dozens of fires since 2006, according to CCC, but none of the owners has been prosecuted over previous blazes.

The Solidarity Centre reports that Bangladesh is now the world’s second-largest clothes exporter with overseas garment sales topping $12 billion last year, or 80 percent of total national exports. Yet the base pay for a garment worker in Bangladesh is the equivalent of £23 a month—the same monthly amount it costs to buy food for one person.

There are no local unions at the Tazreen Fashion factory to represent workers and ensure safe worksites. Earlier this year, union activist Aminul Islam, a leader of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), a Solidarity Center partner, was tortured and murdered.

 Inhumane and illegal labour practices seem to be ever present in other industries also. Apple has recently faced scrutiny over conditions at China’s Foxconn factories.

Is it enough to feel bad and then simply forget about the workers who have died in Bangladesh this week? What can the British high-street do to ensure the disposable trends that we consume on a season-by-season basis are sourced ethically?

According to the First Research industry report on apparel manufacturing, this dependence upon large retailers is one of the key issues that affect the global garment industry. It may be that the largest retailers in the world can band together and insist on safer working conditions in the factories that supply their products so that they will not have to issue additional sad statements.

If we choose to stop buying the clothes from the brands involved what’s the knock on effect? In the long run if everyone stops buying cheap clothes from these brands, people will lose jobs, which will force them to find work elsewhere, which may have worse pay and conditions.

What is the answer?

Is it purely a vicious circle? Are we as consumers responsible for this or does the blame go to the brands?

I’d love to hear your views.

Written by Cara-Leigh Heasman


Twitter Trolls – can they ever be stopped?

As great as twitter is, It’s become increasingly abused by ‘twitter trolls’ and cyber bullying. By definition this is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. Wikipedia defines trolling as  ‘someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous , off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional responseor of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.’

I have read on my own twitter timeline, gossip magazines and newspapers about high profile celebrities that fall as victims of twitter trolls. As much as their lives are in the public’s attention, death threats and vulgar abuse is a day to day occurrence for some people.

I was on Twitter the other night and stumbled across Scott Mills (BBC Radio1 DJ) replying back to some twitter trolls sending him homophobic messages.

Tweets about trolls

 Twitter strives to protect its users from spam and abuse. Technical abuse and user abuse is not tolerated on, and will result in permanent suspension. Any accounts engaging in the activities specified below are subject to permanent suspension. Link for policy. But is a suspension enough punishment when they can create a new account easily and carry on sending abusive messages under a different name?

“Seriously. I’m lovin the trolls. Can’t wait for them to have their special moment on air. Morons:)”  

In an article by The Daily Mail last year X Factor singer Cher Lloyd was calling for government intervention to halt online abuse from ‘trolls’ who torment others via social networking sites. But are new laws from the government and help from the police going to stop trolling? Probably not.

Shouldn’t police be putting more time into investigating real crimes than twitter trolls? In an article by The Guardian  A spokesman for the Police Federation, Steve Evans said: “The sheer scale of it is huge. Police resources are stretched almost to breaking point, so if we started trying to investigate every instance of stupidity within Twitter, then we would be really pushed.”

This is a very sensitive subject that is extremely hurtful to the person involved and it is disappointing that Twitter is used in this way. But can twitter trolls really be stopped? If people stop talking about trolls and giving them the 15 minutes of fame that they desire; will they still feel the need to do it?

Written by Lisa Hammerton

The ‘beautiful game’ just turned ugly- racisms in football

Once we talked about the actual sporting activity, now this has simply become the peripheral to the political statement, racism, trade unionism and society that fill the pages and internet. Football seems to be becoming a spectacle for all the wrong reasons. Today’s sportsmen and women are becoming more known for their off-field antics than those on the pitch.

One of the most recent incidents was involving referee Mark Clattenburg, who presided over Chelsea’s 3-2 loss to Manchester United earlier this month in which he sent off Branislav Ivanović and Fernando Torres. He was then confronted by a furious Mikel after the game where he was accused of calling the Nigerian a ‘monkey’. Clattenburg will know by the end of this week whether he will face a Football Association charge after Chelsea’s claim that the referee used “inappropriate language” towards John Obi Mikel.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief executive, Gordon Taylor says the union wants tougher penalties for racist abuse including making it potentially a sackable offence, culprits ordered to attend awareness programmes and a form of the ‘Rooney rule’ to boost the number of black coaches and managers.

Taylor’s response comes after Reading striker Jason Roberts, a member of the PFA’s management committee, expressed frustration that his recommendations had not been acted on.

Taylor outlined the PFA’s action plan in a statement to the Press Association. The plan calls for:

1 Speeding up the process of dealing with reported racist abuse with close monitoring of any incidents.

2 Consideration of stiffer penalties for racist abuse and to include an equality awareness programme for culprits and clubs involved.

3 An English form of the ‘Rooney rule’ – introduced by the NFL in America in 2003 – to make sure qualified black coaches are on interview lists for job vacancies.

4 The proportion of black coaches and managers to be monitored and any inequality or progress highlighted.

5 Racial abuse to be considered gross misconduct in player and coach contracts (and therefore potentially a sackable offence).

6 To not to lose sight of other equality issues such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Asians in football.

Taylor also called for unity in the wake of some players considering forming a breakaway organisation for black players.

Earlier this year, after fans of Porto spent a game racially abusing Mario Balotelli, a black striker who plays for Manchester City, UEFA fined the Portuguese club a mere £16,700. Incredibly, it then fined the English side £25,000 for what it apparently saw as the more heinous crime of leaving the dressing room a minute late for the second half. The Russian Football Union, meanwhile, was fined £24,000 after many of its fans directed monkey chants at Theodor Gebre Selassie, a black Czech Republic defender, during this summer’s European Championships. In comparison, during the same competition Nicholas Bendtner, a Danish player, was fined £80,000 for wearing inappropriate underpants.

In a recent ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror it was shown that the majority of people (57%) said it would be impossible to eliminate racism from football but nearly two-thirds (62%) said harsher penalties for racist behaviour would reduce the number of racist incidents.

Personally it seizes to amaze me that in 2012 people can be so ignorant towards different races and cultures.

In my personal opinion I think it’s hard to fathom that in the 21st Century this is such a prominent problem. I think the only way to combat this issue is to create a harsher punishment for those who act prejudice towards others. If people work together and report those who use offensive and racist behaviour in sport, we will hopefully be able to abolish racisms from sport all together.

What do you think? Is racism in football something we just need to accept? Do we need to enforce harsher punishments? Comment and let me know your thoughts

Written by Cara-Leigh Heasman

“When a burglar invades your home they give up their rights”

After recently reading an article in The Telegraph which can be found here:

It raised the question, “Is it ever okay to harm, or kill someone?”

The ethics in this case appear to be situational, for example, if you are at risk, then yes, however if it is simply for the sake of harming another this is not ethically acceptable.

David Cameron UK Prime Minister is currently trying to provide householders who are confronted with force with more legal protection. The current law states that anyone in England and Wales can use “reasonable force” to protect themselves or others. Householders are protected from prosecution as long as they act “honestly and instinctively.”

After stating that he had been burgled many times, it is clear that Cameron is taking a stand on the matter stating that:

 “When a burglar invades your home they give up their rights.”

An issue is rarely straight forward, which is the case for this one in particular. By changing the amount of force the law allows, there may be repercussions. It is argued that providing people with more rights to fight back may have the opposite effect than intended in which people may take advantage of their new found lenience. For example, knowing that they are more protected in terms of using self-defence, people may use this inappropriately as they feel they would then be held unaccountable for their actions and can claim their actions were defensive when in reality they were not.

However, the possible change in law does state that it is okay to fight back as long as it is not with “grossly disproportionate force.” I feel that this statement provides boundaries for this potential issue as it proves that there will still be consequences if things were to go beyond self-defence.

To further complicate things, if the change were to take place, it is a possibility that it may increase violence on both sides of the spectrum.

Does this mean burglars will come more prepared with weapons knowing that householders may be more likely to fight back?

Will this lead to more victims being killed trying to oppose the burglars?

It is a difficult issue as it may ultimately encourage people to fight back which may be harmful or fatal. However, I feel that the change in law is more about educating people about their rights, dispelling any doubts about what they are able to do to protect themselves and what they are not.

Do you think Cameron is acting as the householders Superman, or is this the start of a more violent culture?

Written by Amy Lee.

Should kids aged 10 even know what the word “Porn” means?

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) fear that Primary School children are learning too much about ‘sex’ from the internet. The idea has been put forward that the effects of Pornography are taught as part of sex education modules?

“Campaigners say the easy access of porn online is harming children, and the NSPCC says they have seen an upsurge in calls from teenagers upset by what they have seen.” Mail Online

With things such as the 9pm watersheds on television and internet security to block these kinds of websites, is it not contradictory to then teach young children about pornography at school? Where is the ethical value in this decision?

The real issue is the way in which both women and men are being perceived in the pornographic content which these children are viewing, providing unrealistic images about how they are meant to both act and look. However, contrary to this, there is a very similar issue with the media and the portrayal of celebrities to young girls. Glamour model Jordan (Katie Price) is criticised for her somewhat ‘raunchy’ image and is often referred to as being very fake. These images of celebrities are much more accessible to children within things such as glossy magazines and on the television. This poses the question, is teaching about the unrealistic approach to both sex and body image within pornography the best option when the media and its sexualised content is much more accessible and less graphic?

My viewpoint on this issue is that the sexualisation of men and women in the media should be taught as part of sex education to teach children about feeling comfortable in their own skin, rather than subjecting them to learn about pornography when it is likely that some nine year old children are not even aware of what the word means.

Although I doubt what would be taught is promiscuous and graphic, I feel that teaching the basics about sexual intercourse, childbirth, general safety rules and dealing with peer pressure is enough. Within the younger generation, they are likely to want to have sex, however teaching about pornography may have the opposite effect than intended on the younger generation and therefore raising awareness of such an industry could add to already overly sexualised society.

Arguably, explicit content is so easily accessible to children that it is no longer okay to ignore the issue and that a plan of action needs to be put in place. But it is difficult to say if this is the right one.


Written by Amy Lee.

Savile and others

The investigation surrounding Jimmy Savile is fully under way as more and more people are coming forward with claims they were abused. Since then, two other celebrities Gary Glitter and Freddie Starr have since been questioned surrounding the Savile investigation.

On November 2, comedian Freddie Starr (69) was arrested and since bailed after police questioning about allegations of sexual abuse surrounding Jimmy Savile.

Starr has since applied for an injunction so that the media could not report the allegations, but this was rejected by the high court. Instead, Starr has actively spoken to the media in order to clear his name.  The video shows a clip of Freddie Starr vigorously denying the allegations.

Starr has also appeared on tv shows such as This Morning with his fiancée (34) to deny that he had any involvement regarding the Savile scandal.

‘I absolutely hate paedophiles. If I even see a child getting hurt on TV I have to change channel…To be accused like this is devastating… I’ve got to fight back’.

Freddie Starr and his fiancée on This Morning

PR guru Max Clifford has also claimed that many stars from the 1960’s and 70’s have contacted him  as they are  ‘frightened’ they will become implicated in the widening child abuse scandal’.

As Savile is now deceased, he will never have the chance to clear his name. It’s a case of only being able to judge via the evidence from the victims.

Once a much loved TV star and icon for many people across the country for his charitable work, ITV news states that Savile ‘is now believed to have been one of the UK’s most prolific abusers, with about 300 possible victims’.

I think that the media have definitely made an impact on changing the public’s opinion of Savile due to the amount of coverage and allegations there has been. My opinion of Freddie Starr, however, has remained the same. He has the chance to defend himself and his reputation. Is this a prime  case of innocent until proven guilty?

What are your thoughts?

Written by Lisa Hammerton

Fess up BBC!

With the Chairman of the BBC Trust Lord Patten questioning the corporation that he represents, is there any wonder that the public now turn their attention to the BBC and the role they played whilst Jimmy Savile was suggested to have been sexually abusing young girls.

Savile: Posing for the Top of the Pops

It is not only the BBC who have eyes on them to come up with reasons why; Police, and councils are also in the hot seat as to why nothing was done to address the seemingly obvious issues at hand when they first arose.

Since the Savile news broke, it appears that new evidence has surfaced week after week. Have a look at the shocking footage below of Savile hosting a live episode of ‘Top of the Pops’ for the BBC back in 1976.

The footage shows Savile addressing the camera whilst smiling surrounded by an all girl audience, looking to the female to the left of him on screen it is questionable as to what is happening right in front of the camera.

It’s very possible that the BBC may have been quite aware of what Savile was doing, not only in this isolated incident but others too. The question remains as IF the BBC did know of what was happening then WHY did they do nothing about the issue? Celebrity status has been the main issue identified for how he could have got away with the abuse for so long. Did celebrity status mean that Savile was more trustworthy than others? Trustworthy enough to be given the keys to the Nurses Accommodation back in the late 1980’s where he was provided with the keys upon asking for late night visits due to his fundraising work. The obvious answer to this question is presumably the answer to most of life’s dire questions and that is: money and status. Is it ethical?……..Not really.

Savile, before the recent news of his alleged wrong-doings was perhaps seen as a national treasure; more memorably known for his show ‘Jim’ll fix it’ Savile was a major player on the BBC screens; perhaps the BBC had too much at stake or was trying to cover up a much sinister secret altogether?

As mentioned above, police and a council are also being asked questions. When Savile’s own memoir’s ‘As it Happens’ 1974 he claims that he made demands for the council to provide him with 6 girls and a tent as ‘payment’ to take part in a charity event. Savile described the girls as “good enough to eat” and he had an “incredible evening”.

So with so much of Savile’s dirty laundry now being aired in public for all to see, can we truly believe that no-one knew? Did money buy the right people’s silence? Was it simply a mistake that the police file for the investigation placed before his death  had gone ‘missing’ or is it a case of being above the law?

 Written by Stephanie Birch