Charity T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief’s Gender Justice campaign were found to be made in a factory where workers are paid 35p per hour.
According to an investigation by The Guardian the T-shirts, designed by the Spice Girls and sold for a limited run in 2018, were made in a factory in Bangladesh where its mainly female workforce are allegedly overworked and verbally abused for failing to meet unrealistic targets.
Workers in the factories alleged that they were set “impossible” targets to sew thousands of garments a day leading many to work 16 hour days to meet these targets, as well as being verbally abused by management.
The T-shirts retailed for £19.40, with Comic Relief due to receive £11.60 from each sale to help fund programmes that are “tackling gender-based violence and supporting women and girls’ empowerment”, yet the charity is yet to receive any of the proceeds.
A spokesman for the Spice Girls told The Guardian that the band was “deeply shocked and appalled” and would personally fund an investigation into the factory’s working conditions. The band also suggested that Represent donate the profits of the T-shirts to “campaigns with the intention to end such injustices”.
Comic Relief said it was “shocked and concerned” by investigation and said online retailer Represent, which had been commissioned to make the T-shirts, had switched suppliers without notifying either Comic Relief or the Spice Girls.
The statement continued: “To be very clear, both Comic Relief and the Spice Girls carried out ethical sourcing checks on the supplier Represent told us they would be using for production of the T-shirts.”
It added: “We have requested an independent investigation of the factory.”
The statement concluded that Represent has taken “full responsibility” and will refund customers on request. The company behind the factory, Interstoff Apparels, told The Guardian that while the findings would be investigated, they were “simply not true”.
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