Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Band of Sweat

Undoubtedly inspired by the success of the Lance Armstrong wristbands, and all the other charities which followed suit, an anti-poverty campaign in the UK decided to do the same.

Wristbands purchased by British charities as part of the Make Poverty History campaign have been manufactured in conditions that breach international ethical standards, it emerged yesterday.

Chinese companies responsible for wristbands worn by thousand of charity supporters, celebrities and politicians, including Tony Blair, have been accused of indulging in forced labour and of paying less than the official minimum wage. An audit also discovered breaches of health and safety regulations.

Officials from three major charities, Cafod, Oxfam and Christian Aid, say they have been negotiating with suppliers in an attempt to improve working conditions.

A Cafod spokesman said: “We are disappointed this situation has arisen. However, we are now engaging with the supplier to improve conditions within the factory. Under the Ethical Trading Initiative standards, when we find out a supplier isn’t in line with those standards we don’t just pull away. We attempt to engage with the supplier and work with that supplier to improve conditions so they are in line with the Ethical Trading Initiative standards.”

The audit reports focus on two factories heavily involved in manufacturing white wristbands, which sell in Britain for £1 each, 70p of which goes to the charities concerned.

Okay, this is going to be an interesting lesson in economics.  One of two things is going to happen, either the supplier is going to pay his employees more, or he is going to refuse and the charities will take their business to a supplier who does.  This, inevitably, will mean that the unit cost will go up one way or another.  Right now, 70p of the cost of every wristband goes to the charity.  If the unit cost goes up it eats into the 70p profit from the sale.  So, if the charities want to keep their 70p income stable, then the price of the wristbands is going to have to go up slightly.  Or, if they keep the £1 price constant then the amount the charities receive will be reduced.

Posted by Lee on 05/30/05 at 08:55 PM in Politics • Permalink


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