subscribe: Posts | Comments

School uniforms: transparency and pricing issues


school uniform, monopoly, pricing, transparency, Labour behind the Label, Trutex, petition, letter, Competition and Markets Authority, CMA, Gavin WIlliamson, School uniform monopolies leave parents in both a financial and an ethical bind.

Trutex, the UK’s largest specialist school wear brand, produce uniforms and sportswear for thousands of schools throughout the UK and worldwide.

Yet Trutex is failing to provide any information at all on where its uniforms are made.

This needs to change.

Uniforms come at a high cost.

Many parents’ household budgets have taken a big hit this autumn buying new uniforms for our children, as Trutex continues to make mass profits from families with no choice but to purchase clothing made by them.

Each year it is estimated that families spend around £1 billion on back to school equipment – about half of this on uniforms.

Despite calls from parents, unions and others, there is nothing to prevent schools from having exclusive contracts with uniform companies – this drives up the costs and increases the monopolies of companies like Trutex.

But it is not just the expence.

Uniform monopolies also leave parents in an ethical bind, forced to buy from brands that lack transparency.

Trutex’s website offers vague promises of a commitment to ethical production and assurances that its production sites are well managed and safe.

Yet unlike many other brands who have published lists of where their factories are located, Trutex remain silent and provide absolutely no evidence that what they say is true.

The norm throughout the global garment industry is poverty pay, unsafe working conditions, and illegal levels of overtime in order for workers to cover their basic living costs.

Trutex claim on their website that all their products ‘are manufactured in safe working conditions,’ in factories that demonstrate a strong ‘ethical’ position, yet without proof, these are just words designed to make parents feel good about buying Trutex uniforms.

Until they release their supplier list we all have no way of checking their claims.

Why do we need to know where our uniforms come from?

Garment and shoe supply chains are hugely complex and brands often hide where their clothes are made. What we do know for a fact however is that unsafe working conditions, extremely low wages and suppression of unions are found in many factories and workshops.

More publicly available information on the supply chains of major companies can go a long way towards improving human rights.

And what you know you can change.

In the last few years as transparency in supplier factories worldwide has increased, respect and protection for worker rights has become more possible.

Your help is needed to make sure that our school uniforms come from good factories.

You can sign the petition today to ask Trutex to publish its factory list. And please share it.

Or you can help clarify this; send a letter or email to Trutex.

Regarding the more straightforward side of the uniform nightmare, Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), wrote to the Department for Education recently about the cost of school uniforms, urging the government to introduce legislation requiring schools to allow parents to shop around rather than insisting on a single supplier.

This follows previous work by the CMA, including an open letter to schools and school uniform suppliers.

The Department for Education has now published a response from the Secretary of State highlighting the guidance that is already in place urging schools to keep uniform costs as low as possible for parents.

The full letter can be seen here.

The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: “Our guidance states that uniform items should be easily available for parents to purchase and schools should keep compulsory branded items to a minimum.

“The guidance is clear that schools should avoid single-supplier contracts, but where schools do choose to enter into such contracts, they should ensure these are subject to a regular competitive tendering process to ensure value for parents.

“The government has announced its plan to put the school uniform guidance on a statutory footing and will do so when a suitable opportunity arises.

“This” he maintains, “will send a clear signal that we expect schools to ensure uniform costs are reasonable.”

You could also write to, email or Tweet Gavin Williamson and ask him to actively make that opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *