Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more

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Stop Clothing Waste, Meet Clothing Need, say Oldham’s Liberal Democrats

by Garth Harkness on 7 July, 2020

Oldham Liberal Democrat Councillors Garth Harkness and Diane Williamson are concerned that a culture of ‘fast fashion’ prevails in the UK which leads to the over-production and over-consumption of clothing  At the same time, they can also see that people on low-incomes in the Borough are sometimes unable to afford the clothing that they need for themselves and their families, and that workers in the clothing trade are badly exploited.

At the next meeting of the full Council (15 July), Councillors Harkness and Williamson are proposing that Oldham Council works with representatives from the clothing manufacturers and retailers; the trades unions in these sectors; and campaign groups to develop a strategy to end clothing waste, meet clothing need and tackle the exploitation of garment workers in this Borough.

Councillor Garth Harkness, who will be proposing the motion, said:

“The Oldham Liberal Democrat Group has previously proposed motions to take action on food poverty, fuel poverty, water poverty, and period poverty. Now we are turning our spotlight on clothing poverty. As the Covid-19 Lockdown begins to be lifted, we need to look again at ways that we can Build Britain Better. Two of our priorities must be finding ways to tackle climate change and finding ways to address poverty and social injustices in our society.”

“Clothing waste is just criminal when we have so many of our citizens in need. We want to create a virtuous circle by putting the two together – taking the clothes that people don’t want and matching them up to those who need them. And by doing so we will reduce the number of clothes that hang unloved in wardrobes or are simply dumped. Its common-sense really and there are some good projects from around the country that we can learn from to help us do so.”

Not only does clothing over-production eat up natural resources it results in the financial exploitation of workers in the clothing industry.  

Councillor Diane Williamson, who is seconding the motion, said:

“We need to identify how the Council and politicians can best support workers in the clothing sector at risk of exploitation.   Many of these exploited workers are women producing garments on low-pay and under pressure in their own homes. Tackling the exploitation of clothing workers should be a priority as part of our collective effort to tackle poverty in our Borough.

It is for these reasons that the Oldham Liberal Democrats are bringing a motion to the 15th July 2020 Council meeting.  The meeting starts at 6pm.

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