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Centre axes show over labour fears

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: October 10, 2013

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A PLANNED fashion show at an arts centre has been cancelled amid claims that the clothes store set to host the event has “commodities produced by grossly exploited cheap labour”.

The Foxlowe Arts Centre in Market Place, Leek, was set to host a fund-raising ‘Evening with Style’ later this month.

It was intended to showcase clothes from Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which has a store in the town.

However, the Post & Times has now been informed that the show has been cancelled due to the venue’s “commitment to equal treatment for all embraces, for example, a comprehensive Fairtrade purchasing policy”.

Peter Kent-Baguley, chairman of Trustees at The Foxlowe Arts Centre, said: “The planned fashion show, spotlighting the current lines at the Edinburgh Woollen Mill at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, organised by arts centre supporter Elizabeth Bradshaw as a fund-raising event for the Foxlowe, has been cancelled. The event was planned for Thursday, October 24, and publicised at the weekend.

“However, since the announcement the organisers have been informed of the company’s apparent link with sourcing garments from the Bangladeshi Tazreen Fashions factory destroyed by fire in November last year, when 112 employees perished.

“Richard Bilton of the BBC investigated the Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s links with the Tazreen factory and said last month ‘We were handed documents which appear to show that Edinburgh Woollen Mill clothes were manufactured at Tazreen’.” Mr Kent-Baguley added: “Crucially, he continued his report by stating ‘They include specific codes and have details of Edinburgh Woollen Mill T-shirts and polo shirts indicating they were being made and inspected inside the factory. The product codes on the documents match the product codes for clothing currently on sale in the company’s shops’.” It has been reported that Edinburgh Woollen Mill has since claimed the paperwork was “inaccurate or fabricated”.

Mr Kent-Baguley added: “The Tazreen factory was one of scores of such factories where Bangladeshi workers are paid a pittance for anything up to 19 hour shifts.

“The Foxlowe Arts Centre commitment to equal treatment for all embraces, for example, a comprehensive Fairtrade purchasing policy.

It would be absolutely incompatible with our principles, therefore to endorse commodities produced by grossly exploited cheap labour."

The Post & Times has tried to contact Edinburgh Woollen Mill to comment about the claims made about its wares, but no-one was available at the time we went to press.

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