Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central attended an event in Parliament to back the call for a watchdog to tackle unfair and abusive buying practices in the fast fashion industry which result in exploitation and poverty.
“ Workers and interns are sadly often exploited in the fashion industry,
The event on the fast fashion industry
Ms Onwurah saw video testimony of garment workers in Bangladesh, She also spoke to researchers investigating the impact of Covid -19 on female garment workers in both Bangladesh and Cambodia, two of the world’s top locations for garment manufacturing.
Evidence was shown of workers going hungry, experiencing sexual harassment and being forced to work longer hours for no pay. Chi heard that many fashion brands have behaved unethically towards suppliers in the wake of Covid -19, by failing to pay for goods already made, paying late, and demanding discounts. An example is in Cambodia where two thirds (63%) of the garment workers were forced to take out loans to supplement their poor wages.
Chi is extremely disappointed that despite many UK retailers returning to profitability in 2021, these practices are still continuing.
She believes a new fashion watchdog, along the lines of an existing supermarket watchdog, is needed to clean up the fast fashion industry. As since its creation in 2013, the supermarket watchdog has slashed the proportion of supermarket suppliers experiencing abuse from 79% to 29%.