Are we really this greedy?
Fact 1. The people who make our clothing are paid so poorly that they cannot put food on the table or pay their rent or send their kids to school. The chart below, using data from the clean clothes campaign, shows the minimum wage for garment workers across Asia compared to a living wage (a wage sufficient to meet the basic needs of a worker and their family). Most workers get paid the minimum wage and it is nowhere near enough for them to live decently.
Fact 2: The wages of garment workers usually makes up less than 5% of the retail price we pay for the garments. So to pay a garment worker in Indonesia a living wage for a $50 pair of shoes would add no more than 10%, or $5, to the price. To pay a worker in Cambodia a living wage on a $5 T-shirt would add about $1 to the price.
Fact 3: The multinational corporations that commission the goods know that neither their shareholders nor their customers will tolerate this. So they continue to exploit their workers.
I refuse to accept that this is natural or normal or necessary. I will exercise my right to demand that Bastards Inc does better. I can demand that the directors of fashion labels and sporting goods manufacturers and furniture makers and toy emporiums pay their workers a living wage.
To join the revolution check out Baptist World Aid’s behindthebarcode.org.au