Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hypocrite of the decade award goes to ......

Bono! Better luck next time Bill.

Seems Bono and the poverty crew have been making history at the expense of the poor:
Anti-poverty wristbands produced in sweatshops

FASHIONABLE wristbands worn by pop stars, actors, top athletes and celebrities to publicise the Make Poverty History campaign are produced in appalling "slave labour" conditions, damning evidence has revealed.

Chinese factory workers producing the white rubber bracelets are forced to toil in conditions that violate Chinese law and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) set up to establish international standards for working conditions.

The revelations are laid bare in sensitive "ethical audits" of factories that make the must-have fashion accessories for the national Make Poverty History campaign begun by a partnership of over 400 charities.

Hearing of the news yesterday, Sir Bob Geldof, called for immediate measures to improve the terms and conditions of the workers with the threat of all business being withdrawn if the response is unsatisfactory.

[..] Prime Minister Tony Blair and First Minister Jack McConnell have been photographed wearing the bands, as well as celebrities including model Claudia Schiffer, actress Sienna Miller, the band Travis, and football managers Alex McLeish and Martin O'Neill.

According to a report on the Tat Shing Rubber Manufacturing Company in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, dated 12 April 2005, the company uses "forced labour" by accepting "financial deposits" from new workers - against both Chinese law and the ETI.

The report also revealed a category of weaknesses including inadequate health and safety provision, lengthy hours, seven-day weeks, employees cheated of their pay, inadequate insurance, no annual holidays and no right to freedom of association.

[..] The revelations have now caused infighting between the various charities, with Christian Aid claiming Oxfam failed to tell other charities that it had decided to stop ordering from the Shenzhen company.

A spokesman said: "If Oxfam had concerns about ethical standards it did not pass them on for a considerable time."

An Oxfam spokeswoman responded that they informed their coalition partners in January, but added: "We could have perhaps put it in writing to make it absolutely clear. We bought an initial 10,000 wrist bands from the Shenzhen company in November. We now see that purchasing this before we saw a full audit was a mistake."

Instead, it sourced 1.5 million of the bands - made from silicon rubber or woven fabric - from the Fujian factory, but only after assurances that concerns over ethical problems were being addressed. Christian Aid and Cafod continue to source the bands from the Shenzhen factory as part of a "constructive engagement" policy.
On the topic of "constructive engagements", remember Bono's recent campaign appearance in support of Paul Martin:
Fans also showed their support for more foreign aid by buying white rubber bracelets being sold at the concert. Printed on them is the message 'Make Poverty History.'

The bracelets are part of a larger campaign being backed by Bono and other celebrities including Sarah McLachlan, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx. The campaign will officially kick off in Canada Friday, when a downtown Vancouver church will be wrapped in a white band.
The armbands are also a natural alternative to toliet paper when crapping in the woods of third world nations - even softer than Cottonelle.

Hat tip: Mitchieville