Spice Girls apologise for ‘Gender Justice’ T-shirts made by low-wage women Spice Girls apologise for ‘Gender Justice’ T-shirts made by low-wage women

Spice Girls apologise for ‘Gender Justice’ T-shirts made by low-wage women
01 Feb 2019

The Spice Girls have said they are “deeply shocked and appalled” after reports emerged that their 'Gender Justice' T-shirts were being produced by Bangladeshi women earning just US$0.46 an hour.

According to the Guardian, the charity tops, which were sold over a three-week period last year to raise money for Comic Relief’s fund to help champion equality for women, were made mostly by female machinists who are allegedly forced to work up to 16 hours a day.

Commissioned by the Spice Girls and featuring the hashtag #IWannaBeASpiceGirl, the T-shirts sold for £19.40 (US$25.36) each, with £11.60 (US$15.16) from each sale going to Power Up, which is part of Comic Relief’s Gender Justice campaign. Celebrities spotted wearing the garments included Holly Willoughby, Sam Smith and Jessie J, reported The Independent – none of whom would have been aware of the alleged working conditions under which they were made.

One employee at the factory producing the T-shirts told the Guardian: “We don’t get paid enough and we work in inhuman conditions.” Another worker alleged that their managers used abusive language, calling them “daughters of prostitutes” for not hitting targets.

The Spice Girls apologised for the situation in their statement and said they have demanded a full explanation from Represent, the online retailer commissioned to make the T-shirts. “The band intend to demand that Represent donate their profits from this initiative to localised campaigns in Bangladesh,” the statement continued.

Comic Relief said it was also “shocked and concerned by the allegations”. It attested that it had carried out initial sourcing checks on Represent, but the outlet switched to a different supplier, the Belgian company Stanley/Stella, without its knowledge.

Stanley/Stella likewise issued a statement to The Independent saying it too was “shocked” by the controversy and would investigate. It added that an audit conducted by the International Fair Wear Foundation found no issues with the factory. 

Asad Rehman, executive director of anti-poverty charity War on Want told Talk Radio that the problem was rife throughout the garment industry: “What we are seeing is a story of low-pay and exploitation, but also the race to the bottom for cheaper fashion and to protect the bottom line of big UK retailers," he said.

Emma Wollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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The Spice Girls have said they are “deeply shocked and appalled” after reports emerged that their 'Gender Justice' T-shirts were being produced by Bangladeshi women earning just US$0.46 an hour.

According to the Guardian, the charity tops, which were sold over a three-week period last year to raise money for Comic Relief’s fund to help champion equality for women, were made mostly by female machinists who are allegedly forced to work up to 16 hours a day.

Commissioned by the Spice Girls and featuring the hashtag #IWannaBeASpiceGirl, the T-shirts sold for £19.40 (US$25.36) each, with £11.60 (US$15.16) from each sale going to Power Up, which is part of Comic Relief’s Gender Justice campaign. Celebrities spotted wearing the garments included Holly Willoughby, Sam Smith and Jessie J, reported The Independent – none of whom would have been aware of the alleged working conditions under which they were made.

One employee at the factory producing the T-shirts told the Guardian: “We don’t get paid enough and we work in inhuman conditions.” Another worker alleged that their managers used abusive language, calling them “daughters of prostitutes” for not hitting targets.

The Spice Girls apologised for the situation in their statement and said they have demanded a full explanation from Represent, the online retailer commissioned to make the T-shirts. “The band intend to demand that Represent donate their profits from this initiative to localised campaigns in Bangladesh,” the statement continued.

Comic Relief said it was also “shocked and concerned by the allegations”. It attested that it had carried out initial sourcing checks on Represent, but the outlet switched to a different supplier, the Belgian company Stanley/Stella, without its knowledge.

Stanley/Stella likewise issued a statement to The Independent saying it too was “shocked” by the controversy and would investigate. It added that an audit conducted by the International Fair Wear Foundation found no issues with the factory. 

Asad Rehman, executive director of anti-poverty charity War on Want told Talk Radio that the problem was rife throughout the garment industry: “What we are seeing is a story of low-pay and exploitation, but also the race to the bottom for cheaper fashion and to protect the bottom line of big UK retailers," he said.

Emma Wollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

OTHER STORIES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Iceland first country to mandate gender pay equity

UK government refuses to expand gender pay reporting

A third of temporary migrant workers in Australia suffer wage theft

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