Actress Vanessa Redgrave has backed an appeal for donations to help factory workers battle for better conditions and pay.
This Sunday Redgrave will tell BBC Radio 4 listeners that a number of workers producing clothes for UK high street chains work 80-hour weeks for just 15p an hour.
In the past few years British retailers including Primark and Tesco have increasingly come under fire for claims that they contracted factories engaging in unethical work practices including child labour, poor wages and alleged unfair dismissal.
During the broadcast, Redgrave will describe the life of Yasmina, a typical female employee, who produces sweaters that sell in British stores for more than her whole month’s pay.
She will add: “You’re desperate for the toilet, but not allowed a break. Your boss comes over, slaps you round the face and shouts at you to work faster to meet his production target. For Yasmina in Bangladesh, this is the harsh reality, forced to leave school because her family were too poor to pay for her education.”
Redgrave is making the appeal on behalf of the anti-poverty charity War on Want, which said that in just over a decade 239 Bangladeshi workers have died in garment factory accidents.
Redgrave will also add: “Last year, with War on Want’s help, garment workers in Bangladesh won a 60% increase in their minimum wage. For Yasmina this offers the hope of an education for her children. But there are thousands of women still facing long hours, unsafe conditions and often cheated out of their pay. So, with your support, War on Want can help more women like Yasmina to a better life.”
Donations can be made through the Radio 4 website at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/appeal.