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Blood, Sweat and Luxuries: What are the human costs of our luxuries?

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Graham Matthews | 16:48 UK time, Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Blood, Sweat and Luxuries throws up lots of interesting issues and questions around the human cost of our luxuries. Maybe the answers aren't as clear cut as they first appear.

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Did the programme change the way you think? What choices will you make?

We want to know your thoughts about this issue. Join the debate by adding your comments to this blog post.

Graham Matthews is content producer for BBC Three online.


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  • Comment number 1.

    i know its hard out there but stop sending people that can't cope out just for entertainment purposes and send some people out who actualy want to help, i'd do anything for that oppertunity these peolpe just want to be on tv

  • Comment number 2.

    Great programme ruined by very poor camera work. Is it possible for a camera to remain on someone being interviewed for more than 2 seconds without moving from picture to picture at very fast speed . At one point we had subtitles with the picture changing ever second ( when they arrived at the mine for the fisrt time. Please please get the camera crew back under control and certainly try to persuade the editor of the film shots that it makes for a very dizzy experience watching film frame shots spin past at ever increasing speed !!!!! Ian

  • Comment number 3.

    Is that Oscar guy for real? How can he sit there and judge the worker on his choices? He is being forced to provide for his family. How can the privileged few in the world make judgement on those who provide luxuries for us today?

  • Comment number 4.

    These programs really make you think. For the length of the program. But I bet you just switch over, make a cuppa and carry on with your life - totally unchanged and the same from the way it was before you watched the show.

    We need to take action against these company's. One of the girls mentioned in the program that this is the way business has to make work! I disagree! Business would still make a profit from the gems if they increased the miners wage by 100% each! £1 A DAY! That is outrageous!

  • Comment number 5.

    I totally agree with lou - half of the people they send out there dont even try!!!!!!!!!!!! And whats with the crying, yeah its dark and cramp, but seriously, your going home in a week, so stop the tears and get on with it. Spoilt wastes of space!!

  • Comment number 6.

    i feel so bad when i watch things like this, the things that i take for granted when there are these people out in these conditions working so hard and getting payED hardly anything!!. im 16 years old and i spend my money on clothes & shoes like theres no tomorrow!. i really want to go out to these countries and help, but i dont see wat one 16 year old girl can do? i think everyone who works in any bussiness should be payed a resonable amount. i really do feel really strongly about this, and when im older i want to go out to these countires and see these things for myself and try and make everyone else see it and HELP!

  • Comment number 7.

    It was a very good document ' I. Think the workers should be paid more end off.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think criminals should be sent out to do the hard labour the local people have to there really any justice in this world?

  • Comment number 9.

    I dont care who they send out wether you wanna work or not, the fact is what is happening there! this is where the problem is, im shocked, really shocked, i feel so sorry for the minors, i was in tears listening to them. It needs some big gun to go in their and invest in factors and machinery with cutting warehouses, this would make that place rich! If i had the money I would go for it!

  • Comment number 10.

    lou so true i would give an arm for an oppertunity like that to experience a different culture and lifestyles. But also people have to realise that these situations are so complex their is no one simple solution like pay them more money or this and that and the important thing is to ensure that these industries are competitive and clean from corruption.

  • Comment number 11.

    i think this programme was a great idea!
    now people who are purchasing too many of the items in the documentary can see where they're actually coming from and the hard labour that gets them the product at the end of it. i dont agree that all the labour should be stopped as it's their only source of money but maybe the price should be heightened so that the people who work to make these items for us get a more substantial amount of money to provide for themselves and their families.

  • Comment number 12.

    I found the documentary really interesting. I'm glad the BBC is producing programs like this, even with the fly on the wall, sending Brits out there to experience it, type of production. I think this is very important to draw in viewers, I'm sure with the addition of people who "can't cope" some people who wouldn't have watched the documentary, were drawn in by this voyeuristic approach. I am a jeweller and studied for 4 years at university to gain the skills and I was not once told anything about the methods used to find and mine gems. We were not told about blood diamonds, we were not told where all the silver, gold and other precious metals come from. I am so glad that I watched this program.

  • Comment number 13.

    It is ashame that these programs are not aired on BBC1 or 2, as they would receive a higher viewer rate, but I am pleased that they center around young audiences who tend to be more materialistic. I think fairtrade should be mentioned, as a possible way forward, none of the young visitors seemed to have a clue about this. I only became aware of fair trade products when at sixth form with further emphasis at my University. However the fact that many products are still not fair trade is just testamant to consumer demand, lack of proper legislation from the government and industry still exploiting developing countries where government corruption adds to the problem.

    In summary then, I think these programs are a step forward in heightening peoples (especially younger audiences like myself) awareness of the global issues of which as consumer we are all apart of. However there should be mention/ promotion of Fairtrade as a valid alternative to the current system in place. Plus greater media coverage (radio, tv, news) would have a greater impact on public opinion.

  • Comment number 14.

    There are other options to this kind of small scale mining for gemstones. There are already some cooperatives and small scale mining operations which work with fair standards and pay higher wages. These operations have less people between miners and retail, therefore less people taking a profit in each step.
    If you are interested in an alternative search for ethical and sustainable jewellery. There are different brands out there, specially in the UK, which are working really hard to make a change in the jewellery industry.

    If we all ask questions and look for alternatives we could create change.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think its embarrassing that the BBC sends these spoilt teenagers out to an environment where life is harsh, and some of them cant even complete a days work, they think they can go there, do a couple of days work and then start to think they can make a difference. Why doesnt the BBC send people out there who are the big money makers from these indusrties. It is interesting to see the way of life, but these Brits are just patronising teenagers with no real life experience.

  • Comment number 16.

    Reallllyy Enjoye the Programme!!! and to and extent i agree with lou if you heard wat the "french" guy said knowledge is expensive - soo yeah these people probably do jus want to get on tv but how ele are you going to preach to a generation of children mutalated by the media

    much love

  • Comment number 17.

    It makes me sick that here in the so called civilised, developed world we condone this exploitation of workers whom have no choice but to work like this in order to eat!
    If more people bought fair trade more shops would stock fair trade products. Personally i bought a fair trade necklace last week for £12 the equivalent mass produced product made in some third world sweat shop no doubt by a six year old would have cost about £10, can we really not spend a couple of quid more to ensure the workers have a standard of living and work in better conditions!?

  • Comment number 18.

    Dear God, send some people with some Backbone - these people were so patronising to these poor people who break their backs on a daily basis. Worst scene in the history of programme making - The Geordie lass going to the boss to complain about the miners getting a pittance compared to the rest of the sapphire chain of production. Yes their life is shit but as the chap says, it's a case of the miner either works for what there is om offer or the family starve. I agree this is on the verge of slavery but it is ALL these people know. Great program - get some decent subjects on that are living in the real world - NOt Mummy & Daddy's home counties mansion

  • Comment number 19.

    Great series of programmes. Yes, the people do mostly seem complete spoilt brats, but thats what the programme is about.

    If even a small proportion of people watch the programmes and it makes a difference to their buying habits and opinions then its worth it.

    I've personally changed my shopping habits since watching these series and I will for certain not be buying any sapphires or other gems, we just don't need them in our lives.

    We all need to think about choose Fair Trade products no matter what we buy. If the mine in the programme had been a co-operative where all workers shared the profits then think how different it could be.

    Thanks BBC for bringing another series BUT they should be aired on BBC1 where more people see them.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's not new what I saw on the show, it's hard work to live in the third world, no benefits, you pay tax and you work to feed yourself and that's it. Because we in the third world either mine or grow things to sell fore a small fraction of the worth in the first world after processing.

    So what needs to be done to help those in the third world?

    People should not just say in the first world they are making more money from this, the third world (supply) and the first world (where there is demand) must make an agreement. For those in the mining industry to have a larger share of the profits they need to cut all the middle men, in the show we saw a dealer (Madagascan) another dealer (Swiss and French) then the London Jeweler. It will mean taking out all these people who are not doing the work of mining the stones.

    The Madagascan government and UK government need to agree a price, market value £400 for a pink stone of two carats etc, weight, clarity of the stone (no flaws). Then the miner does the work and takes it straight to the Madagascan government office collects his cash on a value, matching the market value. This would help the country where the stone is mined as buyers would have to travel to that country spend money on an air ticket and hotels etc all Madagascan businesses and buy the stone from the Madagascan government rather than enriching the UK economy, it will be pounds going abroad, that would develop the Madagascan economy. Alternatively, The shopping channel in the UK could list gems from Madagascan owned gems and shipping could be arranged to the buyer in the UK and the payment made directly to the account in Madagascar.

    This will all not happen however, because the UK companies and countries economy would suffer.

  • Comment number 21.

    Truly the time has come for the world to understand we live in a global village and fairness and equality is very important. We also have to understand there are different conditions to every situation.

    For people who don't beg and earn a living by working hard to put food on their table only for young consumers to go and compare their life style and wages for no apparent reason.

    Within the UK there are places with harsh conditions and in third world countries there places with loads of opportunity and better conditions. The documentary should be based on the leaders who run these business and mines. Not ordinary good men and women trying to make a living to support their families.

    The consumers who went there seem to want the world to be what they dream rather than what it is.....Well done bbc educate us.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well done BBC3 for having the courage to show how these poor people are exploited. Yes, they have to earn a living and yes, we can't suddenly stop buying gems but we CAN and MUST continue to show their plight so that in the same way as the Fair Trade campaign began to improve wages, so the same can and must happen here. Let's see more of this sort of programme. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 23.

    Rachel has a valid point, even if they did increase the minors pay 100% - thats just a £1 increase. I understand that profit needs to be made but how much can a £1 increase dent their profits.

    The problem with this world is that we're all selfish, its all about how much money we can make and it doesnt matter who gets hurt along the way.

    We're so consumed with money that we've lost sight of what its really about, not that I know what its really about, why would I?? Ive got bills to pay.

    Its a sad world!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    The programme was really good and a total eye opener to say the least. I work in a Jewellers but to actually see where sapphires come from in their raw form is totally different to how I imagined it to be. In this day and age I was appalled to see how the workers live and the conditions they have to work in and under. I am used to sapphires being posted from a gem dealer as and when they are needed. We really need to start appreciating what people go through to earn their wage, a very measley wage of £1.00 a day to supply the demand for these beautiful gems. Not forgetting how they risk their lives for this small wage too. I have to say that it brought tears to my eyes and has made me think about it all differently.

  • Comment number 25.

    I really enjoyed the programme, this series looks good. I previously watched Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts and thought it was really insightfull. I think its good to open peoples eyes to these topics for them to make informed opinions. I think the point of the programme is to put relatable, young people in these situations to make it closer to the viewer, whilst also making it entertaining!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I think this programme highlighted the most brutal form of Capitalism, similar to that which was prevalent in the UK until after the Depression and the 2WW. The arguments put forward by the owner of the gem polishing factory were tunnel visioned and pat. If we in the Uk have managed to ameliorate the appalling conditions people were trapped in and managed to move out of through unthinkable courage and support for eachother and some humane philanthropic individuals in positions of power then it is surely possible globally, as nothing disastrous happened! The attitude presented by the factory owner was greedy and insulting- the miners were not asking for handouts. They wouldnt even dare ask for a wage increase. They know they are not considered fully human. Hitler would be cheering.

  • Comment number 27.

    This programme always makes people think about their situation, and our constant need to have more is exploiting the people at the end of the line. As a 16 year old I often feel sick when I think about the immoral things that still happen in this world. In this day and age why are people openly being exploited, we have no morals. What hope have the people who need the money most got?

  • Comment number 28.

    Cut out the middle men- if a few good companies in the UK could go straight to the miners and producers and give them a fair price for the work they do it would erradicate so much of the injustice that was so blatant in that programme. I know of a great ethically sourced jewellers called "cred jewellery" (and I'm sure there are more like it) which is a great example of how this can work!
    ...Here in the UK we always have a choice to buy fairtrade and freedom of opinion so there's no reason to winge about your own insignificance.

  • Comment number 29.

    the white guy running the cutting shop - his justifications were reprehensible. wage slavery, really nothing else to call it.

  • Comment number 30.

    Just feeling sorry for these exploited workers is not enough. We all have to be responsible consumers - only buying from fair trade businesses (which pay workers a fair wage) - or alternatively buying less stuff. Who really needs all of it anyway?

    The problem is that people in the rich part of the world want to buy more and more stuff and pay less and less for it. It is not our right to do this! We cannot expect prices never to rise. Someone on this programme commented that the buyers from high street jewellers complain that the end customer- that's us guys- "will not pay more". Whilst this may not be the whole truth it is certainly part of the problem.

    Fair trade guarantees adults a fair living wage and means that their children don't have to go out to work and hopefully can get an education to get the next generation out of the poverty trap. Support fair trade. Lobby and boycott budget retailers to pay fair prices to workers and finally - buy less stuff and from reliable and responsible retailers - you don't have to pay that much more for it anyway.

  • Comment number 31.

    Karin, You're right this is capitalism at it's worst but we can't really present what happened in the UK with improving conditiions here etc as a high moral example because all that really happened was rather than exploiting our own people... we pretty much just swapped to exploiting the 3rd world instead.
    But I do believe there's hope and the awareness raised through programmes like this will undoubtedly help.
    Sasha x

  • Comment number 32.

    I liked the idea of putting the management of big businesses in the shoes of the Brits, after all these are the poeple with the money and power to make a change.

    I think it is really important to note simply not buying diamonds or saphires would only make matters worse for the minors of these chanty towns, as this is their only source of income. Without the demand there would be no jobs and even less money for these workers. Fair Trade is definatly something that should get involved. Cutting out the middle men, like the suited guy at the cutting factory would mean more money for the miners, but this is skilled work, requiring costly training and equipment.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think that the program was really informative . I think the choice of the bbc to take a group of vain , selfish and greedy kids was bad , because their poor morale was not good for the morale of the workers . I'm 33 and was a brownie a girl guide and eventually a scout leader , I had quite a privelleged upbringing too but their ignorance and naivity shocked me . I would have been happier if you had included young people who were not so naive and not affraid to rough it . Looking forward to seeing more episodes of this excellent series . I just hope in the next episode the kids aren't affraid of hard work . Also their hosts were very kind and patient with the english weaklings they looked after and no doubt their patience must have been tested . They gave the young upstarts a lesson in dignity and humanity despite being so poor .

  • Comment number 34.

    Well thinking further, is exploitation not to be expected when all business is based on competition, not cooperation. Businesses all aim to get the most money out of the product. So, business cant afford to be ethical, because they have to compete.
    Having more money to those people is the difference between eating and starving, being able to see a doctor or dieing.
    Unfortunately due to the values in our societies for us, it means buying a piece of decorative stone.
    The thing is we built a society around this.
    SO, shouldn't we be questioning why do we keep promoting these values.
    Why does a stone that has no practical use worth more than a life.
    Where does the idea of its value come from.

  • Comment number 35.

    We all learn about third world country's and their lifestyle yet, we do feel sympathy for them at times but not enough to stick in our mind all the time, for whenever we buy our products, as we are taught to buy fairtrade products. We know the farmers or miners or workers get exploited yet we don't really realise what extreme it goes to for the reason that our UK life is at such a high degree we can't imagine. We see things like this on television all the time, yet this programme has emotionally inspired me as it is not from a biased point of view and all the description is given to the audience. The blisters, the backaches all from the digging and a worker actually telling the Brits that up until this day today, his back is STILL aching yet there is nothing he can do as he needs to work. The workers are definitely, without question being exploited and in my opinion, this is not right or fair as it is not their fault that they were born and raised in a third world country and they feel as if they are trapped that they cannot escape. In addition to this matter, we have the BNP saying that none Brits shouldn't have the right to live in our country. Is that really fair though? I'm not saying that everyone from third world countries should be brought over here, although I do strongly believe that clean water, fresh air are human rights. People in the UK get paid for easy jobs such as working at McDonalds .. atleast £5.50 an hour? Here, on this very show, we see workers getting paid just over £1.00 and that's for labour work which requires more effort and determination than asking a customer, what their order is.

  • Comment number 36.

    In modern western civilization it's so easy for us to sit back in the lap of ignorance. What we need to do is get out of out comfort zone and wake up to the exploitation in the world's poorer countries, who are at the mercy of huge corporations which have too much control over the world economy and even have the power to pull strings in governments to get the extortionate profits they greedily seek. And we are perpetuating this crime against humanity by unquestioningly buying products to satisfy our addiction to shopping. Then eventually these products end up at the dump! (OK, maybe not gems but u get my point...!)

    We should not be allowing this exploitation to continue in our times for our comfort. Cut out the middle men and give the workers the sapphire profits because the land belongs to the workers! Are we going to continue to keep out eyes closed and mouths shut? Or are we going to activate change and be a voice for those who have none? As Anita Roddick said: ''Activism is the rent we pay for being on this planet.''

    If you want to make a REAL difference then allow yourself to be inspired by this programme. Allow yourself to cry over the workers plight and allow yourself to be outraged enough to push for change by lobbying parliament, join fair trade action groups, vote with your wallet and SPEAK OUT! Because our silence can be deadly. We cannot allow this to continue in our time. BE the change you want to see in this world. Think Act. Change.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well said Arrumolane.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think the problem is yes these programmes make people think, but only for a short while, when it comes down to it, we want what we want and really don't care where it comes from. At the end of the day we are a NIMBY (Not in my back yard) society. As long as we can buy nthe latest outfit, gadget, bling then we're happy until of course the next latest outfit, gadget, bling comes along then we must have that only for a cheaper price please!

  • Comment number 39.

    AMEN to Gaffarn's comment, number 20 above.

    Jenny Robbins

  • Comment number 40.

    As we live in a capatilist world were the rich always stay rich and the poor always stay poor its very easy to symathise with this way of life, and very very easy to become angry with the way this system works! Capitilsim is a ruthless system where death is just another outcome. I think both make a great argument, by buying thee items we are encouraging this work yet by boycotting we risk destroying peoples livelyhoods. It is a horrendous situation and one which will continue to rule over peoples lives not only in the developing countries but western countries too.

  • Comment number 41.

    i think that this is pathetic why is the bbc wasting money on sending people to far away countrys just to do a little bit of work and complane about everything that thay do. the tv programs are not going to solve anything so why make them insted of makeing rubbish programs why dont they spend the money of comedies and other programs and not things that are not gowing to boring people half to death. to be honest i could not care less about the people in madagascar or africa and places like that thay seem to be very happy because if they where not then thay would not work or so little, its not even that little just because it looks like little in our money dose not meen it is little in there money. makeing programs like this and many many others it is not gowing to change us

  • Comment number 42.

    We, in the so called " developed" world, should be helping more to the "non-developed" world, to help them prosper, much the same as we are now.

    Economies are unstable at the best of times, but surely everyone would benefit if the miners were paid more and at least have adequate conditions to work in.

    Can you imagine "health and safety executive" from the developed world going there and saying the mine isn't safe? That to the workers would be outrageous, as it is thier livelyhood.

    If we wish to continue with our high, fast paced ecomomy, then we need to look after those that help it and are not even apreciated. Give the miners better conditions and pay, and lifestyle, so they can do thier job good, that will in turn help us, and so the wheel turns.

  • Comment number 43.

    Damn theres always someone out to rip the under privileged off.
    You would think that in this day and age and with the amount of wealth that some countries/individuals have that this kind of poverty/exploitation would be non existant.
    Take footballers or other sports stars for example, they kick a ball around for 90 mins and get payed multi thousands/millions yet a man can break his back hard labour for 1 day and get less than £1 .... The whole world is bonkers man.
    Also totally agree with what arrumolane said in post #34 why do people put so much value is a tiny stone? total madness.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    Business is brutal, and people seemingly will do anything these days to make some cash, even if others are suffering as a result. I do feel though that these programs are helping to raise the general awareness and conciousness of how it is for the workers who live in these absymal circumstances, which should hopefully lead to more positive actions in others.

    I have mixed feelings towards the brits who do these things though: they come across as a bit fame hungry and even condescending, especially that Oscar guy! But at least they did something. Unlike most, including myself. Hats off to them for trying and I now wonder what they and the rest of us can do to help.

  • Comment number 46.

    like most people I Agree with most of the comments above and giveing them £1 extra a day (doubling thier wage) seems quite reasonable after watching this programe. how could anyone not feel sorry for them. but even though i dont think it is right the point is the population was 20 it is now 20000 no-one made them go there they went because it is better than what they was doing and they can send some money home to support thier famalies. years ago i worked in a jewellers and if we brought a ring for £100 we would sell it for £300 + vat and if we brought a ring for £1000 we would sell it for £3000 + vat which looks like a easy profit but then you have security, insurance, rent, rates, advertiseing so some years you only made a very small profit once all the bills had been paid. there are people here in the uk lifting 25kg bags of potatoes all day long and bent over picking strawberries all day long. as the english no longer want to do it more and more of them are comeing from europe and working for MINIMUM WAGE once they have paid the rent and brought food there is not much money left but they send it back to thier families in europe. how many people in the uk are on minimum wage ? quite a few of the above comments mention fair trade but this only usually applies in countries where they dont have a minimum wage. you have to remenber these people are paid the countries MINIMUM WAGE so surley the easiest solution is for the goverment to increase the minimum wage

  • Comment number 47.

    Is it really necessary for these people to work in such shocking conditions? I think not. I am not a fanatical equal rights person, and if this is the way things are going to stay, then that's life. But maybe everyone that consumes the goods that they make has to spend on day in the appalling conditions, and work/live how they live, then the world would quite possibly be a better place.

  • Comment number 48.

    the first episode all they did is quite annoying really..they are all spoilt brats who have never done a hard days graft in their lives..most of them are students..enough said they preach their thoughts like they are gods gospel..they should go out get a job and earn their bloody living..time wasters!!!!!!OH IV PULLED A MUSCLE IN MY BACK!! what a load of CRAP!!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    it doesnt matter if they sent spoiled brates who cant do the are missing the whole point have to see what is really happening in the third world other people are living due to poverty.can you imagine working for £1 so you can feed yourself and your family.i love documentaries like these because they show you how others are living and surviving....

  • Comment number 50.

    Unlike Jake (comment 41 and 44) I believe this is exactly the type of programme the BBC should be making- informative and entertaining (in its own way). Good on you BBC we need these programmes to make us question what values we take for granted in our western democracy and what events or practices we can close our eyes to in order to have what we personally want!
    I would really like to see these programmes on BBC2 - which used to be the home of documentaries! All viewers do not want their minds numbed with endless comedies, game shows and soaps. More of this please. Though, not at the expense of excellent recent history and drama series eg Mad Men. Perhaps you should follow up on this series with programmes informing viewers of more general aspects of fair trade and co-operatives which seem to have slipped off the political agenda. Capitalism may be the predominant dogma of the world but it shouldn't involve 'slavery'.

  • Comment number 51.

    I saw the programme last night and was pleased to see that the world is finally waking up to the problems faced by 'third world' nations.

    Although I have never directly seen these for myself along the lines of the programme's experiencers, I have been to many of these countries and have tried to help as best I could.

    I now work for a large, very well-known supermarket chain (one of the big four) and not a day goes past when I am not completely astonished by the attitudes of management, some colleagues and many of our customers.

    I consider myself a sort of activist if you like, campaigning internally against the hierarchies who implement such ruthless policies - but to be fair to the corporations a lot of this stuff is customer lead too. The shops provide what they want so it's only when their attitudes and buying habits change that they will.

    If you don't believe me hang around your local supermarket on a busy Saturday afternoon. Stay long enough and you'll eventually come across a customer demanding stock that simply isn't there.

    Customer service aside, from a shop-worker's (generic) perspective these are the most common complaints:
    1) the product is out of stock
    2) it's never there when they come in to shop
    3) it's poor quality or not up to the standards they expect
    4) it's the wrong shape, size or quantity
    5) it's not good enough that said product is not available
    And these are all understandable concerns - if you live in a wealthy, priviledged first world country like Great Britain.

    From my own perspective two of the most insulting conversations I have had with customers (given knowledge of third world problems) are in summary as follows:

    1) During the last (publicised) action between Israel and Palestine

    Customer: Why are there no beans left?
    Me: I'm terribly sorry. They have sold out.
    Customer: Why have they sold out?
    Me: Because they are grown in Israel and we are doing everything we can to source them from other growers (corporate line).
    Customer: That's not good enough!
    Me: Er....
    Customer: So what are YOU going to do about it?
    Me: Er....well. What can I do about it, sir?

    I FELT LIKE SAYING: 30 years of high-level diplomatic talks in the region have failed to avert a war, so what do you want a lowly shop worker in the United Kingdom do about it?
    NOTE: Admittedly Israel is hardly the third world but many of the migrant labourers harvesting the crops may well be from that area.

    2) The product I want to buy is not available and I need it now!

    Typical scenario (because this happens all the time):
    Customer: I need this particular type of baked bean because my little Jimmy will only eat this type and he will be upset if he cant get it so it will be all your fault!
    Me: I'm terribly sorry. We have sold out of that particular line.
    Customer: Well that's not good enough!

    YOU FEEL LIKE SAYING: There could be any number of reasons why the item is out of stock from supply chain issues right through to there not being sufficient supply in the food chain. But the main problem I have with the customer's insistence (particularly with low value foodstuffs is their complete ignorance when it comes to the knowledge of how that product may have been grown or produced in the first place).

    The countries in which they are grown (for our benefit) most probably have indigenous populations with little or no access to the economic advantages we have - and are more than likely starving hungry themselves all so that little Jimmy can have the products he likes to eat.

    The parents of children in these countries are probably under-nourished and have very short life expectancies, all so that we can flourish, demand and prosper. Many of the people in these countries are just glad to have something to eat let alone having choice!

    Although I am relatively well-off compared to these nations let's not forget - without getting too political - that many shop workers (myself included) are also living on the breadline. When a customer in this country stamps his/her feet because they cant have what they want, what thought do they have even for the impoverished staff member (often barely earning above the minimum wage) trying to sort out their problems?

    Last night's show highlighted a topic involving luxury goods and the mark-up they receive along the way from extraction (or production) right through the chain towards the shop front and ultimately the customer. I can assure you similar mark ups exist across all supply chain mechanisms and baked beans, etc., are no exception (although on a much more lower-priced level).

    I am only saying things from my perspective - and in no way do I wish to aggravate or take the mickey out of customers who may have more pressing issues in their lives which dictate their anxieties or behaviours when they come shopping.

    All I wish is that the general population in this country stop getting on their high-horses about things, lose their egos and appreciate or have more empathy for the real human, animal and environmental cost their societal ways of living have on good old mother earth and her inhabitants.

    If we do not get to grips with world problems and acknowledge how priviledged we actually are to have the basics like a roof over our head, sanitation and a supply chain mechanism - which allows us not to have to worry about where we find food - then we may start to look towards others who do not have all those things.

    It's all very well a wealthy person telling a poor person what they should and shouldn't do, but try putting yourself in their shoes. How would you go about things in their shoes? How would you react if you were having to survive on their wages and a boisterous, wealthy person came in making the same demands. All I ask from a personal perspective is to just take a step back from the situation. Look at other things you could use instead of the product you so steadfastly feel you need at that moment. Could you do without it if you were poor? If you were really poor you'd have other problems to worry about I can assure you! Take it from me. Stop feeding your ego and try it if nothing else. If it really doesn't work for you then that's fine. Absolutely fine. But just try it. Try looking at it from their perspective....

    I sorely hope we all wake up one day and realise how lucky we all are.

    Thank you and kind regards

  • Comment number 52.

    Ahh I've enjoyed (if that's the correct word) watching the previous series Blood Sweat and T-shirts and Blood Sweat and Takeaways. I think they give us an important insight into the situations which less fortunate people are in, but still present a balanced view without being preachy and overtly anti-globalization. Hats off to you BBC

  • Comment number 53.

    How ironic is it in such a business, that the harder you work the less you get paid, and the easier your work the more you get paid, something is wrong,exploitation, and unfortunately the system is at such a stage and been running for so long, it would be be very hard to overturn, although not impossible. all it takes is a few large business men to lose a million from the 10's of millions they already make from this manipulation

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    The grasp of international geo-political issues and economics here makes me feel humbled. The world is indeed in safe hands if this generation are to inherit it.

  • Comment number 56.

    buy fairtrade. if fairtrade is doing well, it will spread and you'll be happy and so will the workers. the extra cost is a small price to pay.

  • Comment number 57.

    All I will say is fairtrade is good where there is a genuine structure in place to reward farmers but even this system is open to exploitation and I'm afraid some research indicates that fairtrade is NOT always what it seems. Successful retailers can be extremely good at marketing!

  • Comment number 58.

    I say respect to the young Brits that went over. What I thought worked well was the contrast between their highly privileged backgrounds and that of the Madagascan workers. Their personal struggles and difficulties coping with the harsh way of life only served to highlight even more the near impossible life-style of the African workers. It's easy to criticise others but I reckon I wouldn't survive an hour working on those mines. The inability of one of the girls to even go down into the mine makes me appreciate even more the dreadful conditions.

    Programmes like this at the very least give us more perspective about our own privileged status in the West, and encourage us to purchase our products more ethically.

  • Comment number 59.

    How do they select the people that appear on these documentaries? Always it seems to be already priveledged people who could if they wanted to travel to these places and find these things out themselves. Would we not get more from seeing atleast one person in the group who genuinely cares about these issues?

    How does one go about getting involved in these things anyway? I would love to know.

  • Comment number 60.

    I like how everyone loves to hate. For starters, this programme is aimed at young people and how many teens are going to watch a documentary on consumerism? none. exactly. Throw some young teens in and make it slightly fly on the wall, youve got them all glued.
    and who wants to sit there and watch people achieve? that doesnt make good tv! Of course they are sending out high consumers, what your all saying is ridiculous and clearly are narrow minded yourselves! The brits were there a week.. and the whole week is squashed into an hour.. yes, they are going to only put the best bits in!
    Also why would they send out people who could cope well? That wouldnt get the message across to people... "oh yeah its not that bad.. I can cope"
    So then the whole aim of the programme to spread awareness would be shot to pieces.
    Frankly watching the programme I felt proud the brits got stuck in. I dont think I would have lasted 10 minutes in Madagascar heat digging repetitively. And I certainly wouldnt have gone down that hole!

    What you see in that one hour of footage is 100 hours cut down! They probably did succeed, and they probably didnt complain all the time. But when they did.. that gets put in. Its called television darling.
    Now give the Brits a break.

  • Comment number 61.

    Keeping people in ignorance allows them to be subjected to power, control and explotation. The Belgian factory owner said "The most expensive thing is knowledge". What I think he meant was "... I have knowledge that these locals don't. I am therefore in a position to make them work like donkeys for a pittance". What he lacks is a sense of COMPASSION. Paying diggers a basic 'wage' is neither charity nor generosity. Also, he probably knows when mine's resources are exhausted he will pack up and go. He could therefore consider financing education and training programmes for the locals towards long term self-reliance; or reshaping the operation into a cooperative with fairer share of the wealth, thus showing a bit of compassion and care WHILE MAKING PROFIT.

  • Comment number 62.

    Fair trade stunts economic growth

  • Comment number 63.

    Its horrible how people can say that the people working in those mines are happy or that it's good they don't live in a world we live in. I feel so sorry for those miners and think some people like the guy who owned the sapphire cutting factory should have some compassion and understand the inhumane nature those poor poor peoplehad no choice but to work in.

  • Comment number 64.

    no one actually cares because if they did they would have done something about it long ago. when you buy a diamond or any type of gem do you actually bother to ask if it came from a third world country where people work for a quid a week and a pair of shoes cost 6 months wages. the only reason at the end of that program did they say "no you should keep the money because you need it more than me" is because they had a flight back home and ATM cards in there pocket and a job to go back to and thats the big point here they got jobs.... decent jobs, they will go back to them and forget all about the misery that people all over the world face every always comes down to one big thing MONEY!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    I can also predict the program next week and the thought that they will have. Its about the leather trade right.
    well when the program has finnished as before they will pull out the ATM card and go to the airport and get the duty free and go back to england, kiss mother on the cheek and mother will say "so how did it go" and they will say "oh mum it was horrable i saw so much and how hard they worked sit down on the leather settee and mum will hand them a big beef sandwich and say never mind what you doing next week.

  • Comment number 66.

    i realise that some people are going to be rather angry at my comments but hey bet they got some big diamond ring in the house somewhere and some leather in the shoe cuboard and if you havnt how can you afford the internet.

  • Comment number 67.

    The children on this programme annoy me cause they see that the others around are working extremely hard but when they work just a little they expect a meddle or something but they do not realise others are doing well more work than them without complaint. In all truth they should shut up and get on with it.

  • Comment number 68.

    I completely agree with shortie17 and marco penne. It takes a bit of compassion from all of us the customers as well as the owners of such factories to make a difference. If we actually began to ask the shops were are food/clothes are being made, then we can decide whether the product is ethical or not and choose to buy from another brand. It may seem like a small change at first, but the more people that do this, the bigger the change will become. It is in fact us in the privileged countries that have the power to change this, as companies only produce what the customer demands and the ever growing need for these companies to undercut each other in order to make more and more money.

  • Comment number 69.

    What happen to compassion Adam (comment 64)? It wouldn't be easy taking that comment if the tables were turned. If everyone thought like that then the world would never change. Why can't we pay a bit more money for the things that we actually don't need but think we need and help someone be able to feed themselves and their family.

  • Comment number 70.

    This program would actually work better if you voluntered to do it as in for charaity work you can still get paid and stuff but don't get morons who know nothing about the world outside of there's what they should do is not make themsurvive on the wagesbut the bbc should give out aid as well tothe workers maybe a few bags of rice or something.

  • Comment number 71.

    We all know less or more about Fair Trade. But when we go for shopiing to spend money on luxury stuffs like jewelleries, clothings, footwears we don't really think wheater they are fairtrade or not rather than low price. People need to think for others like Madagascan and move forward to ethical approach, what is our responsibility towards the society. I do appreciate this program and salute it's all team members because at least some people take initiative to awake brits to show that, the world is not a bed of roses....

  • Comment number 72.

    How can a person like "Oscar" advise a man who has very little, to leave work and return to his family who rely on his little wages to survive.
    Grow up and wake up to the real world you little spoilt boy.
    Typical, a good programme spoilt by sending silly spoilt kids, instead of highlighting the struggles of these poor workers, we are subjected to the pathetic remarks of these privileged idiots.
    Wake up BBC, let people who care have a chance to help!

  • Comment number 73.

    Stacey Dooley, who featured in last year's Blood, Sweat and T-shirts, emailed me with some of her thoughts about the show:

    "Soooo, I watched ‘Blood sweat and Luxuries’….and I wasn’t disappointed! I really think its fantastic that ‘Blood sweat’..has continued from when I took part in Tshirts…it’s such a clever concept, and I really believe it reaches and educates people that wouldn’t necessarily watch a square, straight report from a journalist."

    "BBC three is producing programmes that are massively entertaining and informative at the minute...having normal youngsters discover and experience the reality of certain issues makes it interesting and easy for us to connect with."

    "Its so tricky. Through my travelling since India, I have come across so many amazing people, who you really do form a bond with, and genuinely want to help and do your bit in any way you can. Everything you witness and hear seems very unfair, and it can be confusing to know what the answers are."

    "I think that you have to respect the contributors for going out there. It’s not easy. Okay, everyone may not agree with some of their statements or behaviour….but I think at the end of the series, if its made them, and the viewers, aware of things going on in other parts of the world…that cant be anything but a good thing. The important thing is that we are raising awareness and interest in very important issues…and hopefully doing something about them."

  • Comment number 74.

    I think it's absolutely ridiculous, and shameful, that such inequalities exist and are well known in the world and yet nothing is done about them. In a hundred or two hundred years time, history books will be looking back on this, as they do now to the slave trade, and say it's disgraceful that nobody did anything about it.

    I think this programme raises awareness brilliantly, and I hope that at some point in the future enough people will stand together to stop these inequalities altogether.

  • Comment number 75.

    OSCAR has the nerve to tell the guy how to live his life
    wat a liberty

  • Comment number 76.

    I agree, you have sent some people who clearly have no ability to contribute anything. Possibly it makes sense to get people watching the show seeing the girls freak out in the small mine and abandon it after achieving nothing. Oscar has said some particularly stupid things and how dare he offer advice to that man who is hoping to make money from mining to help his family.
    When they went to the cutting plant each one of them made the same stupid comment about how they understand the business model and how profit must be made. What none of them seemed to notice are the exponential jumps in value that take place. It's not simply a step up the ladder.

  • Comment number 77.

    Its absolutely disgusting how much they get paid, these countries should be richest in world, but we keep them under are thumb, its not fair at all, these countries have all the natural resources but the fat cats just rip them off and keep them 3rd world :(

  • Comment number 78.

    I am truely gutted. Yes there is injustice in the word which is hard enough to deal with, but to see some arrogant IGNORANT money maker, that does not even have any guilt about how much he is ripping these people off that work their asses off just to makes end meet is so hard to swallow.

    And then he has to guts to say that we need to let them work to treat them equally and let them have purpose. Treat them like human beings, theres a thought. At least give them some recognition for the hard work that they do, to make their life a little more easy in the least. We don't even know what hard work is. What's our biggest work stress? The internet being slow, heating broken, not being payed enough to be able to afford those gorgeous shoes.

  • Comment number 79.

    Watching this is an eye opener into the real world of where businesses start. What I was appauled to see how undervalued the sapphire miners were for all their risks of life just to earn pittance for just food. Then going onto see the arrogant gits in the next stage after the cutting to go on and so 'oh it is hard work as a miner. But knowledge is better as it is the real work to sell the product' like they have any right to say the miners job not worthy enough as it is only hard manual labour. Ok there are profits to be made and yes it can be a task to sell the product on. BUT the answer is so bloody simply but no one along way will admit and do it. PAY the miners or the people at the bottem of the chain a damn site more than they get. Is it fair to say only give them enough to SURVIVE cos you can't say they are living. WHY does it really have to be this way to just enough to make it more bearably because of working meanial job that doesn't require an education as such.

    To be honest in this world the rich get richer and the poor get poorer no matter where you are in the world just in different varying degrees.
    It is just left to be this way and has always been this way. As money usually means power and gives abilities to get on with less strain as those with less/lack of money having to do the extra to just get something/some where.

    Unless this attitude is broken and more equality, the divide of social class widens.

  • Comment number 80.

    I think that what we've seen is just a plain exploitation of workforce, at £1 a day. Why could the 'fairtrade' concept not work in gemstone business as well? Apparently because there are too many parties who would lose their 500% profit margins should they pay a fair price for a gem to the locals who find them. Funnily enough, high street prices would remain the same, yet the locals would benefit.
    And it's like the people who pay thousands for a solitaire stone care. What they care about is to be able to flash it on everyone and boast about it. I'm disgusted.

  • Comment number 81.

    At the end of the day.We have to take some of the blame for the way that the poeple are fored to live and work.I also really blame the large sumper makets.They still wanted to pay as little as they can so they can put on there cost of bring it to us.But still making money.
    For explan A lager company who make say cakes work out there cost to make to cake.The sumper maket buyer come in and see it.They are told the unite price ie say £1.00 some time they are happy to pay this.Some time they are not happy so they tell the company they only wanted to pay say £0.80 per unit.The company may have to say yes to keep selling the cake so they have to cut the cost some where in factoy you can gusst who pay the price at the end of the day.The large sumper maket are very good at play difften company off agist eack outher.The company make the imte are to conted on lost the bussin they well more then lighty to say yes.Hope that any one that reads this understand what i'am saying

  • Comment number 82.

    I can't believe the guy at the cutting/shaping factory.
    Give them work, yes. But give them HIGHER WAGES.
    I can believe they're manipulative selfish B*stards, being a UK consumer myself I can't help feeling guilty with how much I spend at all, I'm not surviving to live any more I'm doing what I can to live my life. I can't believe how guilty that program made me feel, but I'm glad I watched it.

    I dislike feeling guilty but we all need to have this feeling, without it, fear & love, life just isn't complete. Things are unusual in life but Let's not get into a philosophical debate about life. I'l leave it saying I'm too selfish to give up my life as it is to live their life of survival. But I will do my part to continue doing what I can to live more responsibly (which won't be much of a push for me since I'm not exactly the reckless party type) & go to equal rights marches as I have started doing since 2007ish. :) righty I'm off to bed. it's 3.28am & I've gotta help cook the Sunday roast tomorrow, now I even feel guilty saying that...

  • Comment number 83.

    having kids like them on the program does make sense and actually not stupid because if they had ppl who where willing and capable to do heavy duty work then this program wouldnt have the same effect...

    ppl who are saying why those kids!
    its those kids because it makes you think what you can do if you was in there position.... making you feel like you can contribute... think about it! would you care as much as you did if you saw ppl helping them so easily ???it b just like another charity program.they may be useless but at least they are actually gaining an experience that will teach them to teach others what this world is like to third world countries who are being cheated out of there rich resources for money that i believe is man made and shouldn't be the core of any society. money, corruption would only make the poor poorer and the rich richer..

    we can help these ppl by actually educating people,in what you saw and learnt from this program... and try and get a reaction or even views in what they think about the subject.... educating friends is a good start as it enlightens them that crap like this happens....

    am not saying the gem dealer is right in any way!! harsh as it sounds, but. aint we all had a situation where you gain more from someone else's behalf??
    so whos the bad guy then??? really!!! you may say he's benefiting from a large amount of people but to be honest its still the same selfish act that we all go through...

    you may be able to find a solutions for this industry ie the rise of wages, but what about the other industry this program has not yet aired??

    i hoped this program has offered insight in what really happens to people who are born at the bottom of the table wheres i know they are going through much more hardship then bbc three are actually broadcasting on this program. hope i didnt offend anyone whos reading this but like to read your ideas on my comment

  • Comment number 84.

    My issue with these programmes is; you're damned if you do and you're even more damned if you don't. You feel horrible being the consumer, but to turn around and refuse to buy the products potentially robs many people of their livelihood. I do like to watch the Blood, Sweat &... series, but ultimately there doesn't seem to be a defining point to them. It's harrowing, yet it doesn't give the consumer any insight or advice as to what we're supposed to do about it. I'm left flailing, even more than before.

  • Comment number 85.

    I believe that this is a good programme, it allows privileged youths of Britain (watching or taking part) to acknowledge the sheer amount of exploitation that goes on to provide luxuries for developed countries. Workers put their lives at risk everyday to secure very low income for their survival. the question being raised is, should Britain and other developed countries fuel this exploitation by continuing to buy these luxuries. Or restrict imported goods from businesses like the ones presented on the programme, to send out a message that we will not allow such mistreatment of employees for the sake of a luxury. it could be suggested that its a no win situation, if everyone keeps on buying luxuries the exploitation continues, if we decrease the amount we spend on luxuries then these workers will have no money at all ! somehow I don't see the great British public reducing their consumer power on luxuries as most of us don't know any better, just like workers in Madagascar its their way of life,heck some of them can still smile and laugh while doing these jobs. What we can do is help provide clean water and basic food for workers on site, which will allow them to save money and spend on other necessity. ( this could be funded through the massive amount of profit big companies make from things like sapphires on the UK high streets)

  • Comment number 86.

    I just think that if the people out there had better working conditions and better pay then non of this would be a problem, the countries the companies ship to should pay a fee every year for the stock to help pay better wages to the workers. I dont believe the people are forced to work it's just like me going to work but they just have really crappy conditions which does need to change! x

  • Comment number 87.

    This programe was very eye opening.
    Thing is most people realise that this is happening, but if developed countries didnt buy these products then the people who work their asses off for hardly anymoney then how would they live or even eat?

    not that i dont realise that i coulnt do this for any amount of money i do feal for these ppl but as im not in there position i cant really do much but express my opinion!

    please excuse any bad spelling! im slightly iliterate lol

  • Comment number 88.

    I am so embarrased watching this idiot Oscar - he is threatening to get a flight - lets hope he has - I can't stand to watch this with him in it

  • Comment number 89.

    I can't agree more with reyrey19 about Oscar and all the other people who have commented about him - he is so frustrating to watch, he lives in another world and the things he has said to the other team members is out of order, but this does explains the society he has grown up in, to a tea.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    ANNOYED - I think that some of the people on here should take some time and reflect on how they would feel if they were in this situation - the CYCLE OF POVERTY. Certain people shouldn't say why is the bbc wasting money, but rather commending them on their efforts to enlighten us on situation that WE the CONSUMER are helping. WE NEED TO STOP BUYING THESE GOODS IN ORDER TO IMPACT POVERTY IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES.

  • Comment number 92.

    It is bad, but the world is all about money right now. We can't all be lucky enough to have a roof over our heads, some people are the unlucky ones at the end of everything.

    I think it's great that people can donate a small sum of monies such as £2 because it allows people to develope their country towards a better soulution for this disaster.

  • Comment number 93.

    I think it is a good thing that these young people are learning in this way. It is something that I ,a pensioner, could not cope with. Nor was I ever given the luxuries these young Brits have.
    On the other hand, I had tears in my eyes as the girls clubbed together to help the Ethiopian lass with the money for her class to learn to be a chef. For 10 or so years I have given £15pm to World Vision for the education (and the community) of an Addis child. I thought how little my £15 was achieving, but I have now just learned that it is a small fortune!

  • Comment number 94.

    For a chap that probably wears leather, that Oscar chap seems to have some strange ideas in life. I wonder what he thinks cavemen/women ate and wore? In my opinion his parents wasted an awful lot of money on that education if the end result is this condescending weasel.

    Moving along though, some of those shoes looked extremely nice and well finished. I've never heard of that "OK Jamaica" brand though. Anybody seen them in the UK?

  • Comment number 95.


  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    Whilst I found this program interesting and it is a good idea to expose the human cost of the goods that many of us take for granted in the UK I would like to hear/see more information about the workers right to organise themselves in a trade union, so that they can bargain to improve their wages and conditions of employment.

    The sorts of conditions that workers in developing countries are being exposed to now are similar to conditions that many british workers faced a hundred or so years ago and it was workers uniting together in trade unions to demand improved wages and working conditions that means that generally we don't face these conditions in the UK now.

  • Comment number 98.

    i think they should rase the working fee because it stuip the rate it about £1 for a day I get more that for a basic part time job shop job
    that what i think!

  • Comment number 99.

    So, Oscar thinks he is so wonderful, in so many ways, he has a very inflated view of his own importance. I get the impression that this 5 weeks for him is nothing more than 'a jaunt or junket' to add to his self inflated status....Get a life Oscar, you HAVE A CHOICE, a lot of the people you have stayed with have NO choice whatsoever, they do it BECAUSE they have to......what would you do if you had no choice????

  • Comment number 100.

    I only saw the last 15 minutes of this program but from what I saw it was very good.
    I agree with people that we can help and theyre not fairly treated, but there is only a limited amount of things we can do. People suggest we stop buying clothes from shops like Primark because they condone the exploitation, but then again, if you do stop buying from there, the workers lose money and are worse off.
    It's a tricky situation and it will take a lot of work to solve it.

    Also, I for one don't believe that the people on the program just want to get on TV. Like me and a lot of others on this site, they want to help. It just happens that they're doing it and it's on tv.

    It's also probably true that people will watch this program then just go back to their normal lives, drink coffee, buy clothes, but that's how we live. Stopping doing these things won't change anything, except maybe making the people who make the coffee or clothes lives worse. I'll spare a thought for the people out there and do my bit but I can't save the world. At least I can try though.


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