Minister calls for more fair trade school uniforms
Letter calls on major uniform suppliers to give parents the choice.
International Development Minister Humza Yousaf has written to major high street school uniform retailers calling on them to stock more fair trade school uniforms.
In a letter sent at the beginning of Fair Trade Fortnight, Mr Yousaf calls on the major retailers of uniforms to give parents a choice to buy fair trade school clothes for their children.
Mr Yousaf met Pamela L’Intellligent, a textile worker from Mauritius who has been making clothes since she was 13 but who now works making fair trade fabrics, and told Mr Yousaf about the difference fair trade has made to her life.
Speaking ahead of opening a conference on fair trade for school children in Glasgow, Mr Yousaf said:
“Small changes like choosing to buy fair trade school uniforms can make huge differences to the lives of the people who make the clothes.
“Parents and carers should have a choice when they’re picking school uniforms for their children, to allow them to buy products that will see their children through the school year – whilst also ensuring a fair wage for the workers who make the clothes. This would make a real difference to these workers lives and those of their children, and would help to ensure that they too could afford to send their children to school.
“That’s why I’m writing to major high street uniform suppliers calling on them to improve the amount of fair trade school clothes on offer. We know it can be done – there are already many fair trade uniform providers, but parents currently have to seek out ethically produced school clothes – every uniform retailer should sell them.
“I want kids in Scotland to go to school in uniforms they know have been produced by people who are given a fair wage and a fair chance.”
Pamela L’Intelligent, who works for Craft Aid, a Fair Trade company, in Mauritius, said:
“I started working in textiles when I was just 13, and left my first job because I was exposed to unnecessary risks.
“Since I started working at Craft Aid I’ve learnt new skills – I can now make entire garments, not just individual pieces – and I’m able to have a better work-life balance, spending more time with my daughter.”
Martin Rhodes, Chair of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, said:
"It's a privilege to hear first-hand about the difference Fair Trade makes to textile workers like Pamela. Fair Trade means we can all make a difference."
Mr Yousaf wrote to Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer and Next and asked them to make more fair trade school uniforms available.
Pictures of Mr Yousaf and schoolchildren meeting Pamela and looking at some fair trade school uniform will be available on the Scottish Government’s Flickr stream
Fair Trade Fortnight runs from 23rd February.