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DATE: Thursday 02 May
TIME: 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm
VENUE: Old Cock Tavern, EC4Y 1AA

This House Would pay UK companies not to use overseas sweatshops


Free and no pre-registration required. Come along and feel free to bring a friend.


The death of an estimated 360 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh, following the destruction of several garment factories, housed in an eight story building that collapsed last week, has once again shone the spotlight on the conditions workers in the developing world are subjected to every day and the companies who profit from their labour.

UK Companies Primark and Matalan are among the companies claimed to buy from the suppliers housed in the collapsed building, while numerous companies trading in the UK have ties to other suppliers with questionable track records across the developing world.

The traditional reaction to such events is to call for a boycott of any company that uses these suppliers. However, in Bangladesh alone, the industry has created jobs for over four million people, many of them women, which raises the question of whether a boycott would help or hinder their quality of life further.

So, we ask, what if the government were to pay UK companies.to outsource the production of their goods to more ethical suppliers without passing the extra costs on to British consumers? Do western countries have any responsibility to workers in other countries outside of their jurisdiction? How would such a policy even work?

You decide

Speaking in this debate:

Each debate is contested by two teams of two speakers – one in favour of the motion and the other against. We rely on you to volunteer to speak in any debate that interests you, while our over-arching aim is to hear from people who have little or no previous experience of debating and wish to improve the public speaking skills because this club is for you.

However, everyone will get a chance to speak as the bulk of the debate is made up of an interactive Q&A session where audience members put their questions and comments to the panel who then respond. Of course, there is no obligation to speak at all if you would rather just watch and enjoy the debate.

If you would like to speak in this debate, please send us a quick message to central.debating@gmail.com and let us know which side you would like to take.

Further reading:

1) Is boycott the answer (Ethical Fashion Blog)

2) T-Shirt tax campaign for Bangladesh Victims (Guardian)

3) In praise of sweatshops (Spectator)

4) The impact of globalisation on working women (Women and the Economy)

5) Tolerating sweatshops (Penn Political Review)

6) International Labour Organisation identifies 5 worst countries to work in (UN)

7) Ethical Trading Initiative (Ethical Consumer)