Does ‘Made in Britain’ mean better working conditions for garment makers? I was saddened to read an article on International Women’s Day that described the poor working conditions and poor pay of many UK based textile workers. The report looks at the textile industry in and around Leicester, which is substantial, with nearly 12,000 employees. They are paying their workers, most of whom are women, only £3 an hour, which is not even half the minimum wage. Many work with worryingly bad health and safety conditions, no contracts and no maternity pay. The women are largely from migrant communities and are being exploited because they need to use their skills to support their families.
There is something we can all do to improve women’s working conditions and respect around the world. We can buy from companies with ethical policies, that guarantee fair pay and worker rights, and we can pressure high street companies to improve. One of my favourite places to buy clothes is People Tree.
At Montes & Clark we are proud to be working with an inspiring women-run cooperative. All the profits from sales of cloth that is designed and made by a network of women mostly working in their homes, go into training and support for the women. They can help negotiate better prices for the work and for their materials, and for some of the younger women the cooperative provides accommodation while they are in business training. This is just one of our suppliers and we hope that as we grow our business we can do more to support other networks of craftswomen in Mexico.
Kate and I are both mothers to daughters, so as business partners we hope to help contribute to a world where wearing a skirt doesnt come with any limitations.