Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The unacceptable face of 'value'

Purveyors of ultra-cheap fashion-tat to the masses - Primark - have sacked three suppliers in India after they were exposed as employing child labour.

Given that one of the companies has been working for Primark for over twelve years you’ve got to question how much of a surprise this really was.

Not long ago I wrote about being fucked-over at work by one of our big corporate clients. To the extent that we are now in the process of lying people off here. When I told the terribly polite people at the big corporate client that this is what we were doing, there was a look of horror on their faces: In their world when it’s time to 'let people go', they usually just pick up the phone to get someone from HR to do the distasteful task. But in small businesses we get to look someone in the eye and say ‘I’m really sorry but you’re fucked’.

The people at the big corporate client are perfectly nice and well-meaning, they may well be liberal too for all I know. But they are in denial. This enables them to dissociate themselves from the consequences of their actions. And that really pisses me off: I’m not too proud of some of the stuff I have to do these days – like making people redundant – but at least I’m honest about it to them and myself.

A lack of honesty and a cowardice in taking responsibility for your actions is the worst sort of Pontius Pilate-ism that makes possible all kinds of bigger horrors.

If you were in Germany in the 30s it might be not bothering to ask why all the Jewish shops and businesses were disappearing.
Nowadays it manifests itself as not worrying where your T-Shirt for under a £1 comes from.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Exactly right - we don't bother to ask where our cheap clothes come from, just like we don't want to find out the various stages of what our meat has gone through, that arrives nicely packaged on the supermarket shelf, or where or how our eggs have been produced, who picks the veg and fruit we eat, and where it has come from, whose country has suffered to produce the coal and fuel we use . . . this not questioning is messing up our world, and we are all guilty. Depressing.