The Mail On Sunday was congratulated by other journalists for its lead story last weekend, as it thundered “62p An Hour”, describing in the most unflattering terms the factory where the “This is what a feminist looks like” T-shirts were manufactured. It was supported by a typically scathing editorial, pouring scorn on Mil The Younger and Corporal Clegg for wearing the garments.
What's so f***ing wrong with kicking politicians I don't like, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
That this was an organised Mail smear was confirmed the following day by Daily Mail Comment, the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue, which called the factory a “sweatshop” and, after tarring Miliband with another broadside of abuse, declared “The T-shirts are now being withdrawn from sale but the damage is well and truly done”, thus letting slip that this was a pre-planned hit.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, all was not as the Mail titles had painted it. Yes, the wages paid in the Mauritius factory that made the T-shirts was a fraction of the UK’s minimum wage, but it is higher than the statutory minimum in the country where it is located. And the factory is clearly not a sweatshop, being well laid out and equipped.
It gets worse for the Dacre doggies: management willingly showed the MoS round, because their factory, as the Fawcett Society said, meets a high level of ethical standards. Workers come from Bangladesh because they are paid a lot more, and treated rather better. Moreover, the Mauritius factory is a far safer and better organised proposition than what they would find at home.
The claims that workers have to put in twelve hour shifts every day are not true – otherwise, the standard working week would be a lot longer than the 45 hours which the MoS concedes. Many work longer hours voluntarily, and “workers are compensated (at a higher rate of pay) for any overtime worked”. They are able to join a trade union, which has representation on site.
The Fawcett Society noted that “An audit into the CMT factory was carried out in October 2014 by an independent not-for-profit organisation and this did not reveal any material concerns on the working conditions, the welfare or the health and safety of workers”. It would be interesting to see the full text of what workers said to the MoS, so that the context could be analysed. We won’t be seeing that, though.
This story is, like so much that comes out of the Mail titles, carefully fashioned to fit the agenda, which is, let us not drive this one around the houses for too long, crude character assassination of Miliband, Clegg, Harriet Harman, and anyone else that might stand in the way of a Tory majority next May.
One can only guess at the prize Young Dave dangled before Paul Dacre at that recent Downing Street lunch. Arise, Lord Dacre of Effingham Blindingham!