You can tell that the anti-sweatshop movement is making an impact when the Liberal Democrats try to jump on the bandwagon. Though not generally known for their advocacy of workers’ rights, the Lib Dems have been plucking the consciences of residents in Haringey, North London, with a harrowing account of how their household rubbish goes to China to be processed by workers without rights, not allowed to form trade unions and in a country where rates of work-related deaths and injuries are utterly appalling even by Western standards.
There’s just one little problem with this: not one word of it is true.
The rubbish is in fact processed in Britain by workers who, though no doubt not exactly well paid, benefit at least from the rights at work won by workers in struggle over two centuries: the minimal rights for which workers in China and other newly-industrialised countries are now risking their lives in struggle.
If the Lib Dems actually want to fight the sweatshop industry, we suggest they try to help those workers. If, as we suspect, their apparent interest is just a cheap election gimmick, we suggest they shut up.