Sunday, 14 September 2008

Fairtrade in Maidstone

Gave a speech on Fairtrade at the Peace One Day festival in Maidstone yesterday (in my role as chair of the local Fairtrade sterring committee). About 500 young people in Watman Park, 6 hours of bands a few speeches and stalls, and great weather, made for a great afternoon. I was only there for an hour but Poppy went for the whole afternoon and enjoyed it (it was organsed by the Maidstone Youth Forum and aimed at the under 18s which I can no longer claim to be in).

The Fairtrade group will also be at the Mela in Mote Park today. We do our biggest stall of the year, Fairtrade chocolate fountain, coffee, petition collecting etc.

The speech went down quite well so I thought I'd publish it:

Tshirts for a quid
Sweat shops
savers tea and coffee
people trying to live on one dollar a day
children having to work 14 hour days
all in the name of free trade
all in the name of globalisation
all to bring the west t shirts for a quid and cheap tea and coffee

are you happy with this? Would you be happy to work for a pittance, not even enough to live on?
In the name of free trade and globalised markets?

Peace one Day is about Global Unity, and goes beyond the ceasefire of violent conflict and building a world where we can respect each other.

and Respect is key. We do not gain respect unless we give respect. Continuing to drive down the price of goods and food we buy from developing countries does not earn us this respect. We have seen the immense power of the multinational corporations, organisations driven by the need to maximise profits and the effect that they have on people.

Fairtrade says different. Fairtrade says "lets pay producers a fair price for their products". Fairtrade means that growers get more for their produce than through FREE MARKETS. Their good are sold in a fair market.

The fairtrade label means that both small farmers and workers on farms and in factories get a fair pay for their work. It also ensure that factories meet health and safety standards, minimum environmental standards and allow workers to join unions.

Currently, more than 1300 retail and catering products from coffee to wine carry the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK. Retail sales of Fairtrade certified products are increasing by over 40% each year. Most importantly five million people farmers, workers and their families now benefit from Fairtrade.

My message today is when you see the fairtrade mark, buy fairtrade. When you go into a shop and don't see the mark, ask if they have got any fairtrade products.

This is consumer power! Embarrass them! Ask them why the don't stock fairly traded goods!

The only way to change the system is to make a noise!

The only way to stop the exploitation of the developing world is to make a noise and insist on Fairtrade. Let's earn the respect of these people, lets pay them a fair price for a fair day's work.

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