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Kate Moss Line Made by “Slave Labor,” Says Sunday Times

Godfrey Deeny
August 14th, 2007 @ 12:09 AM - Paris

Britain’s leading weekend newspaper, The Sunday Times, has accused UK retailer Topshop of using “slave labor” to produce its range of clothes designed by supermodel Kate Moss.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times reported in its latest edition that factories supplying the retail empire of Sir Philip Green, the owner of Topshop, were grossly exploiting immigrant factory workers in Mauritius and paying them a mere $8 for a 12-hour day.

Workers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India were reportedly recruited for fees of around $725 by agents, flown to Mauritius and then locked in compounds were they were forced to work 70-hour weeks, for far less than the wages they were originally promised.

Green, one of the UK’s richest men’s who ranks seventh on the Sunday Times’ own Rich List, told the paper he was monitoring conditions in the factories where his sub contractors produce clothes for his wide ranging fashion empire. Green’s Arcadia holding company also owns Topman, Burton, Miss Selfridge and Burton, and last year launched a collection “designed” by supermodel Moss.

Though his fortune is estimated at £4 billion (or $8 billion) Green’s firm Arcadia has not signed onto an ethical charter on fair trading, whose signatories include Next and Marks & Spencer. Firms such as Nike and The Gap, which had been widely criticized for using supplier factories with poor working conditions, have since set up independent vetting procedures and published regular reports of their findings.

Workers in a plant owned by Compagine Mauricienne de Textile (CMT) in Mauritius, which produces Moss’ collection, have gone on strike to protest their conditions. In response many have reportedly been deported back to their own countries after apparently being threatened members of the armed forces.

According to the UK weekly, as many as 50 workers are crammed into 20ft-30ft dormitories and paid as little as $25 per week for 70-hour weeks.

Their sorry plight contrasted starkly with the lifestyle of Green, who spent last week on his 165-foot yacht Lionheart on a cruise in Turkey.

“I sent inspectors to factories to look at the working conditions, to see that they are not working in sweatshops, that the working conditions are good. I can’t stand there and count how many people are working,” Green told

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