Thursday, November 22, 2007

Union Made: Fair Trade for Home Produced Goods Too?

John has bought a suit with a Union Made label affixed and I'm feeling jealous. Above image is by way of a pointer to the most excellent Labor Arts website.

Got some ethical threads here and there of course and try to buy retread clothes and shoes from Oxfam and all our other charity shops. Reuse trumps Recycling of course in the three Rs waste hierachy. Reduce may be mostly for warmer climes but even here I am a legendary tee shirts in blizzards kind of guy.

Fair Trade is catching on. No Sweat! is making progress. Pants to Poverty is the business. But if more of us prioritised TU-recognising retailers and makers the world would become a better place for working people.

CONTROVERSY: There might be less campaigning against Tesco and the like by strange alliances of greens, socialists and petit bourgeoisie shop keepers. They have plenty of room for improvement of course. But size brings the visibility to leverage that improvement and unlike many small shops Tesco have advantages for "the class".

Unions, decent contracts and no friends and family forced to work for peanuts are among those. Superior staff welfare and health and safety another. Affordability and marked provenance yet another.

My parents and one brother, and one set of a host of uncles and aunts live in Ballycastle (above, a view from the Diamond) where a Tesco was recently seen off. For rather spurious reasons, if you ask me.

There is an absolutely average Co-op which is fine for second shops and top ups. There are some other convenience shops and excellent specialists. Not least two award winning butchers, a bakers and a candlestick makers. But essentially most of the people in Ballycastle and surrounding farms and villages AND seasonal visitors ... DRIVE TO BALLYMENA OR COLERAINE (40 miles round trip) or further for their main weekly shop. Foodmiles madness.


lorenzo23 said...

Bit of movie footage from today's peaceful meeting with Councillors, officials over Tesco in Chorlton. The petit bourgeoisie shop keepers were a bit thin on the ground but your MP was there.

Sir Terence is sending you 200 club points in the post. I said you deserve more but they drive a hard bargain.

Chris Paul said...

Tony Lloyd MP was there? Or are you referring to the part time MP for Man Wit who presumably should have been in Westminster? And who, let's hope will never be my MP.

We don't collect club points. We are above any and all such blandishments.

lorenzo23 said...

Keep forgetting you don't live in Man Wit, must have been confused by one of those Focus leaflets. It was my MP and Councillor for Chorlton Park taking a day from signing Early Day Motions.

John said...

Thank Chris,
Yes - USDAW (retail union) could be missing a trick there - let everyone know where all their recognised workplaces are - Apart from Tescos, which you've done aleady! ;)
Don't know how many people would switch their shopping allegiance - I would, but I don't get to buy so many clothes these days, so I can't see that convincing too many retail bosses. :(
On a brighter note - H&M have signed a global "we're okay with unions" statement and a recognition deal in the states, so we only need to bash them for potential sweatshopping on their super-cheap clothes now...