girl power t-shirts

Campaign showcasing the Girl Power t-shirts / (Photo Instagram / @fequalshq)

Charity ‘Girl Power’ t-shirts accused of exploiting Bangladeshi sweatshop workers

The t-shirts have been been pulled from the online store.

girl power t-shirts

Campaign showcasing the Girl Power t-shirts / (Photo Instagram / @fequalshq)

People have been outraged by reports alleging that the popular Girl Power charity t-shirts are actually made in a Bangladeshi sweatshop.

How much do the sweatshop workers earn?

Manufacturing process at Dird Composite Textiles / (Photo: Dird Group)

As reported by The Guardian, hundreds of disgruntled workers from Dird Composite Textiles lost their jobs after they protested against the low wage conditions they were forced to work under.

Considering the amount of money the t-shirts generate, paying the workers as little as R7.80 (42p) an hour is shocking.

ReadRoyal Wedding: The lit sermon, quoting MLK and referencing slavery

Where are the Girl Power t-shirts sold?

The charity t-shirts are sold in the United Kingdom (UK), by an online merchant called F equals, for about R522 (28 pounds). An estimated R186 is allegedly donated to Worldreader, a non-profit organisation (NPO) that supplies impoverished children of Africa with digital books.

ReadNearly 90% of South Africans gave to charity in 2018

A worthy cause that is needed in a continent where the poor quality of education has impacted economic progress, but at what cost does one achieve this?

Bangladesh’s minimum wage bill affects textile workers

Workers from Dird Composite Textiles / (Photo: Dird Group)

Bangladesh’s recently-implemented minimum wage structure means that, for textile workers, the least they can earn per month is an estimated R1 331 (around 71 pounds).

That is hardly a decent gross salary to bring home and that is why, in January, sweatshop workers took to the streets of Bangladesh to protest against this wage bill.

ReadSouth Africa’s national minimum wage vs the rest of the world

Unfortunately, most of them lost their jobs, including a significant portion of those who worked at Dird, where the Girl Power t-shirts are made.

Sweatshop management deny any wrongdoing

The factory’s group manager, Nabeel Ud Daulah, denied claims that the workers were let off for challenging the company’s wage policy. Instead, he said, the company functions with “the highest regard for ethical and moral standards”.

“All workers that resigned have either received their due financial entitlements or have been contacted to collect their due entitlements,” Daulah added

The Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), an organisation that ensures that factories are compliance with policies that promote good working conditions and fair wages, confirmed that the matter will be probed.

ReadViu Launch: Watch local shows on new streaming platform [videos]

“Over 100 workers claim to have lost their jobs. We did indeed meet with the factory and Stanley/Stella. There were some discrepancies between what we heard from the factory management and the complainants’ stories and their personal files,” FWF stated.

Merchants pull t-shirt from stores

The online merchants, F equals, have since halted the production and sale of the t-shirts, claiming that it was not brought to their attention that these were the conditions the sweatshop workers were forced to work in.

“To clarify, we print our T-shirts here in the UK, but we are always concerned if anyone is treated badly – our entire mission is based on empowerment and if we receive evidence of poor treatment, we would look for another supplier immediately,” Danielle Newham, the co-founder of the company stated.

ReadDark Phoenix latest trailer shows possible end to X-Men franchise

Worldreader has also pulled out of the charity agreement with F ewuals, citing that they were under the impression that these t-shirts were manufactured under the FWF policies.

“Worldreader has agreed with F= that we will cease accepting donations from the sale of these shirts until the situation is resolved,” the NPO said in a statement.