Actually, what has happened is that these “piecework” jobs are no longer available in the UK. They have all been passed out to India, Bangladesh and China because the prices these ladies are prepared to work for are a fraction of the (tiny) sums that Roz and also my mother and mother in law used to work for. Also, since the work is outsourced to the workers homes, there are no health and safety requirements, as there would be in the UK.
High street chains can legitimately say they don’t know about the homeworkers because they are subcontractors of their subcontractors, however this might be a convenient lie.
One of the things that really upsets me is the undervaluing of traditional women’s skills. If these tasks were carried out by men they would have titles like “master embroiderer” or “chief beadworker” but instead they are treated as menial workers, below the level of litter pickers, for example.
It’s worth fighting this corner for our own sakes as well, because the depression of prices in the hand-made sector affects us all. Lots of the knitters and needleworkers on Folksy struggle with very low profit margins, despite the fact they charge higher prices than the high street. This is all caused by the same problem. That consumers, many of whom are women struggling with their own work/childcare considerations and should be sympathetic, have been taught that the value of their work is worth less than a meal out, a garage service, or a tank full of petrol.
Love Sam x