Christmas Anti Child Labour Banner
At a time when over a million small businesses are at risk of collapsing due to Coronavirus restrictions, activists of the Local Matters organisation performed a stunt at the busy Trafford Centre Primark in Manchester calling on the public to support local businesses, as well as to protest the inhumane working conditions in Primark’s Asian factories.
Saturday, 19 December 2020 – Manchester
Activists from Local Matters, a localist activist group formed this year, met in Manchester city centre in the early afternoon to call on shoppers to support their communities by shopping locally. Locally-run shops and businesses have been steadily declining for decades, but with 1.06 million small businesses at risk of collapsing in the next few months under the weight of the lockdown, the pandemic could be the death knell for independent business. With the revelation that major corporations have increased their profit margins at the expense of small businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic, the activists raised awareness of the struggles faced by local business owners competing with multinational brands like Primark.
The text on the banner, which had been chained to a balcony with thick chains and locks, read, “Stop global abuse – buy local” beneath an image of an Asian child worker employed in a textiles factory and an image of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory tragedy, where over 1,100 people died after a factory building partly occupied by Primark collapse due to lax building safety regulations. The average wage of a factory worker in Bangladesh is 76 pence per hour, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that over 150 million children are in child labour worldwide in 2020
At the same time, one activist gave a speech on a megaphone, saying that, under the current economic system dominated by big business, “we are left to rely on the fragile web of globalism”. Many shoppers buying their last items for Christmas were shocked by the stunt and listened to the megaphone speech as security guards moved towards the group to evict them from the premises. The banner remained in place for some time as store security struggled to remove the chained banner.
Activists also handed out leaflets asking the public “Why Not Shop Smaller?” while arguing in favour of local spending overleaf. The leaflets described a number of positive effects of ‘shopping smaller’, such as job creation in local areas, the reduction of carbon emissions from international goods transport and the ‘recycling’ of money spent by shoppers who invest in their own community.
One part of the leaflet read, “If every family in the U.K. spent £5 a week in their local shops, it would be worth £13.5 billion to local economies over the course of one year. Small changes can make all the difference.”
Local Matters is searching for volunteers from across England to join their campaign in favour of everything local and in opposition to globalisation and the erasure of regional identities.
Local Matters is a collective of citizens and activists concerned with the issues stated by our name – Local Matters! Together, we share the view that the basis of politics is found and realised at the level of local communities where the individual and his/her decisions matter. Through research, advocacy and agitation, we fight for radical, cross-party policies established on the principles of regionalism, direct democracy and social sustainability.
Published by Local Matters: thelocalists.org