LONDON – It has been claimed that official Spice Girls T-shirts which were sold to raise money for Comic Relief’s ‘gender justice’ campaign were made in a Bangladesh factory where female staff work 16 hour days and are verbally abused by management. An investigation has found that charity tops, which bear the message ‘#IWannaBeASpiceGirl’, were made by women paid less than the current national minimum wage. It is claimed by Comic Relief that money raised from the £19.40 T-shirts will be used to help ‘champion equality for women and girls here in the UK.
According to the Guardian, The Comic Relief charity is due to receive £11.60 for each of the T-shirts, which were commissioned and designed by the band. The Spice Girls initially said the T-shirts were launched because “equality and the movement of people power have always been at the heart of the band,” a statement which is beginning to look faintly preposterous given the Guardian’s investigative findings.
Various celebrities have modelled the T-shirts on social media, including TV presenter Holly Willoughby, singers Sam Smith (pictured) and Jessie J, and the Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill.
The Guardian’s investigation found the T-shirts we made by Interstoff Apparels, a factory is part-owned by a minister in Bangladesh’s coalition government, which won a scarcely credible 96 per cent of the vote in the recent national elections.
Represent, the online retailer, is said to have been commissioned by the Spice Girls and Comic Relief to make the T-shirts, but it is said to have had subsequently changed manufacturer without their knowledge.
The Guardian’s findings suggest some machinists at Interstoff Apparels are paid 8,800Tk (£82) a month, below the 16,000Tk unions have been demanding although in line with the national minimum wage prior to the recent increase. The report also claims employees are forced to work overtime to hit ‘impossible’ targets of sewing thousands of garments a day, meaning they are sometimes working 16-hour shifts that finish at midnight. It was also claimed workers who do not make the targets are verbally abused by management and reduced to tears.