Fairtrade Foundation statement on school uniform price wars


In response to the latest supermarket price war, as retailers battle to offer parents ever cheaper school uniforms, the Fairtrade Foundation urges shoppers and businesses to make sure it is not the poorest who pay the price for our bargains.

Barbara Crowther, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, at the Fairtrade Foundation said:

“As the school holidays get underway, the annual battle for the cheapest school uniforms has once again set in.  Whilst there isn’t an exact correlation between the prices we pay and the prices paid to farmers and workers – an expensive designer item could still be made in a sweatshop, whilst supermarkets are almost certainly loss leading in the uniform price wars – the overall trend is still likely to be damaging.

“To make sure you are not contributing to the misery of a farmer in India or Senegal struggling below the poverty line or a garment worker in Bangladesh scraping 23p an hour for your labour, check if the company offering the bargain schoolwear has a credible ethical sourcing programme. Are they actively involved in the Ethical Trading Initiative, seeking to improve working conditions throughout their supply chains? Check the labels – are the clothes made in Bangladesh or China? If so, how does the company check the factories are safe and what are they doing to improve the working conditions and wages?  Look for Fairtrade and organic cotton – that way you know the small scale farmers are avoiding harmful chemicals, using rainwater irrigation and farming more sustainably, and will be being paid better prices too.  Together let’s make sure it’s not the poorest who are ultimately paying the price for our bargains.”