Tuesday, 13 January 2009
It's the class, stupid.
The BBC's revelations about the cosy relationship between Primark and Mr Zahid Sarwar, owner of Manchester sweat-shop TSN Knitwear, should come as no surprise. Cheap food, cheap clothing, it's produced at a price. In this instance the price is paid by illegal workers putting up with appalling conditions and being paid half the minimum wage. It should come as no surprise because that's how the system works; and it is going to get worse as the recession bites deeper and companies struggle to maintain their profit margins. So if I am not surprised about Primark. TSN Knitwear or the liberal hand wringing about it what's my problem? Well, it's just that I heard a comment that, given that both Zahid Sarwar and the workforce were of Asian origin, he was "ripping off his own people". No, No. Sarwar's "own people" are fellow factory owners: of any colour or creed. The class nature of issues like this needs to be emphasised over and over again.
It must be thirty five years ago that we had a slogan, " Black and White Unite and Fight". Perhaps we should take it off the shelf and dust it off.