No-poverty campaign goes awry

By Errol Kiong

A campaign to end poverty is embroiled in controversy over claims of unfair labour conditions.

The Make Poverty History campaign has not begun in New Zealand, but there are already revelations that wristbands sold in Britain were made by exploited Chinese workers.

The wristbands that will be sold here are also from a reportedly suspect factory. But Oxfam NZ said measures to improve worker conditions would be met.

Staff at the Tat Shing Rubber Manufacturing Company in Shenzen, from which Oxfam Great Britain had ordered 10,000 bands, worked a seven-day week for sub-minimum wages and no leave.

The Fuzhou Xing Chun Trade Company, from which Oxfam NZ is getting 10,000 silicon bands, was also found to be paying staff below the minimum wage.

Oxfam NZ advocacy manager Shuna Lennon said it needed to work with the factories to improve conditions. She said the silicon bands would arrive for sale in New Zealand this week.

New Zealand charities involved in the local campaign, including Caritas and World Vision, have already sold about 100 $2 cloth wristbands, from an approved Taiwanese manufacturer.

Almost 2 million wristbands have been sold in Britain since January. Most are fabric not made in the suspect Chinese factories.

- additional reporting: Independent