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Methodists lobby rag trade

19 September 2014

MARK CHAPMAN

Fabric of society: pupils from Shebbear College, in Devon, with a banner that they have made to highlight injustices in the garment industry

Fabric of society: pupils from Shebbear College, in Devon, with a banner that they have made to highlight injustices in the garment industry

WHILE not as vast as the 30-metre effort hung from Waterloo Bridge by War on Want, the banners displayed outside Methodist Central Hall during London Fashion Week were the result of hours of work by children who were alert to the injustices faced by garment workers around the world.

Over the past year, hundreds of students from 12 Methodist schools have taken part in a programme to learn about the conditions of garment workers. With the support of the Craftivist Collective, they produced cross-stitched banners bearing the slogans "No more fashion victims" and "End sweatshop injustice now". The initiative is part of a campaign organised by All We Can, the relief wing of the Methodist Church, and War on Want: it is calling for protection for the rights of workers in the clothing industry.

On Friday, students attended a celebration at Westminster Central Hall, before presenting the banners to David Kennedy, director general for economic development at the Department for International Development. He was also presented with postcards signed by All We Can supporters calling on the Government to get more companies to sign up to the Bangladesh Safety Accord and pay their workers a living wage.

The Accord, which is legally binding, was created in response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh last year, in which more than 1100 garment workers were killed, and more than 2500 injured (Comment, 17 May 2013). Currently, 19 British retailers have signed up, including Marks & Spencer, Primark, and Tesco.

Owen Espley, senior campaigner at the organisation, said: "The British Fashion Council would rather we all forget about those who often work long hours, on poverty pay, in unsafe conditions, to produce the clothes we love."

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