We do have to admit, this could be the only thing Jezza gets right in his time at the top of the Labour Party but let us praise people doing the right thing when they do it all the same. It is entirely right, just and proper, that the Corbyn for Leader t-shirts were purchased from malodorous sweatshops in Nicaragua and Haiti.
Jeremy Corbyn swept to victory backed by cash raised from the sale of T-shirts made by factory workers earning just 49p an hour. The Socialist firebrand’s fighting fund got a £100,000 boost from the ‘Team Corbyn’ garments, which sold out on his official website. Moments after taking over the Labour leadership, Corbyn spoke of his determination to combat poverty and inequality in an impassioned victory speech.
We too believe in the combat against poverty. And so we do indeed praise Corbyn and his team for doing their bit against such poverty. Their buying their t shirts, and we apologise for our cynicism here, from the global poor will almost certainly do more for said global poor than any political policy they start to mutter about in the months and years to come.
The factories are run by Canadian clothing giant Gildan. In Nicaragua, workers are paid £101 a month for shifts that keep some workers on the factory site for more than 12 hours a day, with breaks. Based on information from workers and their union officials that most employees work 48 hours a week, that works out at 48.5p an hour.
In Haiti, workers are paid a piece rate depending on how many shirts they make – some earning as little as 39p an hour. One woman told us she earns about £20 for a six-day week.
And that's why this alleviates poverty. Because, if people are willing to work in such conditions for such pitiful wages what must the alternative jobs be like in those same economies? Quite, obviously, worse.
As Madsen Pirie of this parish has been known to point out, the best method of global poverty alleviation is for us all to purchase goods made by poor people in poor countries. And thus the purchase of some 1000 or so t shirts from those factories staffed by said global poor in poor countries contributes to the alleviation of poverty.
And so we applaud this action: more people should buy more things from sweatshops after all.
We would also note that in terms of poverty alleviation this might well be the only time that the Corbynistas and Jezzbollah will actually put their own money where their mouths are. But to point that out really would be cynical, wouldn't it?