T-shirts sold to raise money for Jeremy Corbyn Labour leadership campaign are being made by poverty-stricken workers earning just 30p an hour, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The machinists in Bangladesh toil for up to ten hours a day to make the garments, which are believed to have raised thousands of pounds for the Labour leader fighting fund.
Corbyn has previously attacked the pay and working conditions faced by clothes labourers in Bangladesh and urged consumers to think twice about buying products made in the impoverished country.
Bangladeshi garments worker Asma, 30, a worker from Gildan Garments, with one of Mr Corbyn’s t shirts
Yet a Mail on Sunday investigation has discovered that Momentum – the Left-wing organisation central to Corbyn leadership campaign – has bought hundreds of the T-shirts, some emblazoned with the politician name in superhero-style lettering, to sell here for 拢10 each.
One Bangladeshi factory worker Abdul, 35, said last night: feel angry that a politician is using T-shirts created with our back-breaking work to make a statement about workers?rights when he clearly doesn care about our rights at all.?/p>
Last night Momentum cancelled its contract with the British supplier of the T-shirts and promised to 榬igorously?check the sourcing of its merchandise in the future.
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However, questions have been raised as to why the pressure group did not look more closely at where the garments were being made.
If they had, they would have discovered they have been manufactured in factories owned by Gildan – the same Canadian clothing firm that last year was revealed by this newspaper to have paid factory workers in Nicaragua and Haiti as little as 49p an hour to make the official eam Corbyn?T-shirts for his first Labour leadership bid.
In 2014, we also told how hypocritical Labour politicians including Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman wore eminist?designer T-shirts made in weatshop?factories in Mauritius by women paid just 62p an hour.
Before today’s revealtions, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously attacked the pay and working conditions faced by clothes labourers in Bangladesh
Tory MP Stuart Andrew said last night: his exposes the hypocrisy of Jeremy Corbyn hard-Left supporters. It no good spouting forth about protecting low-paid workers if your own supporters are effectively employing them.?/p>
The basic salary at the Gildan factory in Baipayl, near Dhaka, is around 拢63 a month – well below the country average wage of 拢93. Campaigners told us the employees were treated like lave labour?and paid around half of what they need to meet their basic living costs.
Employees live in shanty towns made of corrugated iron sheets by a polluted river where several family members sleep together in cramped tiny rooms.
One 20-year-old woman we interviewed had worked at the factory since she was 13 – although she said it no longer employs under-18s. Another told how she is banned from toilet breaks, something the company denies, while a third employee said she had developed asthma caused by dust from the cotton.
Others claimed they can barely walk after being pressurised to meet exhausting targets and work overtime to supplement their meagre basic salary.
A Momentum volunteer models in the campaign’s t-shirts being sold to supporters
Many are forced to borrow money from family and friends to survive, and can only afford to live off a diet of rice and vegetables.
After being stitched and packed in Baipayl, the T-shirts are shipped abroad to a company called 3rd Rail, based in Bermondsey, South London, who supply Momentum.
Garment production in Bangladesh is often criticised by human rights groups. In 2013, 1,130 people – mostly garment workers – were killed when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed. And Jeremy Corbyn appears to be well aware of the problem. In 2014, during a debate about Bangladesh in Parliament, the Labour leader said: have attended meetings with the International Labour Organisation and trade unions from this country, and Bangladesh about the abominable working conditions and safety of buildings.
e have to think about the cheap clothes we buy on the high streets of this country, and indeed of the US and the rest of Europe, and the appalling working conditions behind all that.?/p>
And he acknowledged the ubstantial?Bangladeshi community in his Islington North constituency, adding: have had close relationships with them and with the wider Bangladesh community for all the time I have been an MP.
楽adly, many of the very poorest in Bangladesh live in disgraceful and appalling conditions.?/h2>
Workers at the Gildan factory said that junior machine operators, who sew thousands of shirts a day, earn a basic salary of 6,500 taka each month – around 拢63. For this, they work 48 hours over six days – equivalent to 30p an hour. However, most top this up by working overtime.
Senior sewing machine operators take home 7,600 taka (around 拢74) each month, or 36p an hour. The current minimum monthly wage for a garment worker in Bangladesh is 5,300 taka (around 拢51) – one of the lowest in the world.
Bangladesh average monthly income is 9,621 taka (拢93).
However, workers?rights campaign group, the AWAJ Foundation, said even that is not enough and that the country living wage – the amount needed to cover a person basic needs – is 11,750 taka a month (around 拢114).
Bangladeshi worker Shapla holds the t-shirt produced at Gildan garments factory
The workers can earn a living wage but must do so by meeting targets, such as sewing up to 5,000 garments a day and working two hours overtime a day, six days a week. Kulsum, 20, a junior sewing machine operator who has worked at the company since she was 13, said her basic monthly pay was 6,500 taka, which she supplements with two hours overtime every day.
live with three sisters, two brothers and my parents in a shack with just two small rooms,?she said.
e are very poor and that is why I had to start working at such a young age. It is a small amount of money and I have to borrow from people to pay for basic things.?Fatema, 35, a junior sewing machine operator who lives in a slum in a two-room shack with her two sons, husband and in-laws, said: he work is very hard and we are not allowed any toilet breaks.
ften we live on just rice because we have no money. I have to sew 3,000 T-shirts a day to get a meaningful bonus and it leaves me exhausted. I have pains in my back.
f my children get sick then I have to sacrifice food to pay their medical bills and all my clothes have holes in them.?/p>
In his Parliamentary speech, Corbyn claimed that the best way to bring about health and safety at Bangladesh factories was to support union organisation. However, there is no union at the Gildan factory, although workers do have representation on factory committees.
It is believed that Momentum buys the shirts for 拢2.77 each and sells them to countries including Australia and America. It has three varieties of shirt, including the uperhero design?by artist Angry Dan, who according to the Momentum website reated these T-shirts as a way to mock the media exaggerated portrayal of Corbyn supporters?
On the pressure group website, Momentum volunteers are photographed wearing the T-shirts, including Beth Foster-Ogg, 19, from Hackney, East London, who acts as a PA to founder, Jon Lansman.
Momentum claims it believes in supporting workers?rights but Nazma Akter, a former child factory worker and founder of the 37,000-member AWAJ Foundation, believes the group should carry out better checks on factories it uses. She said: his is slave labour and the politician should know this because he is the leader of the Labour Party.
hat conditions does he expect for workers when the T-shirts are so cheap? The factory will say it is audited and complies to minimum standards, but the living conditions for these people are terrible, some of the worst in the world.
Boxes full with Gildan fabrics wait for shipment at Baipayl, Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, this week
hey spend their youth working and then voluntarily give up work at 45 because they have no more energy and work to the bone.
hese older workers have made a big contribution to your country because you get cheap goods, but our workers are hungry. They become sick. They are getting the minimum wage as per legal requirements but they are not getting a living wage. They are giving their blood and sweat for these cheap T-shirts.?/p>
A spokesman for Gildan would not confirm rates of pay for ompetitive reasons? but said that staff receive free meals and there is an on-site medical clinic. He added that since buying the factory five years ago, Gildan has implemented a policy of not hiring workers under 18.
ur current rates are significantly higher than the industry minimum wage in Bangladesh,?he said.
e have implemented virtually all of the standard Gildan compensation and benefits programs and social compliance practices.
ur facilities are all equipped with air circulation systems designed to reduce the airborne lint within the facilities and we have systems in place to regularly monitor air quality. All employees have access to complimentary personal protection equipment, including ear plugs, lint masks and eye wear.
楨mployees are able to take bathroom breaks and water breaks as required. The base production targets established are realistic for each employee in the facility and allow the employees to access bonuses for exceeding anticipated production volumes. This facility, as with all Gildan facilities and third party contractors, is governed by our Code of Conduct which includes a clearly defined provision on reedom of Association?