Everyone likes a bargain but the fact that the Bangladeshi girls churning out cut-price clothes in non-unionised factories are being paid peanuts can take the shine off your post-purchase “I’ve got a good buy” glow. The “True Price of Cheap Clobber” story was in yesterday’s papers quite a bit – flagged up on the cover and a double-page spread inside the Sunday Mirror (courageous for a tabloid when all the others had la Whinehouse in the same spot) and a big thing in the Sunday Times (good choice of story even if it’s a Murdoch rag usually obsessed with “Rich List” stats). The latter names the “quality” retailer Next as one of the offending companies which is a new one to add to the list as usually people cite Primark and Asda which are cheapo stores. Consumer choices are statements by us as much as the groups we have, worn like badges, on our Facebook sidebars.
Capitalism/choice/globalisation are all ingredients in a mix that can leave a bitter taste. Worth checking out for anyone interested is Bostrobalikara – a fascinating documentary that traces the stories behind these girls who are often in their teens. You can buy the DVD here at my mate and dual nation resident Shafi’s blog.
Exploitation and child-labour have no place in the twentyfirst century. As a sociologist mind I am aware that defintions of poverty can be absolute as well as relative. The use of peanuts as unit of wage (dry-roasted, monkey-nut or any other variety) by the way reminds me of when Terry Wogan in the “greed is good” 80s was attacked for having a big-for-those-days salary to which he retorted it was “peanuts”. The Evening Standard carried a cartoon with Wogan walking past two tramps who begged him “spare us a peanut guv”.