Forced Labour Modern Slavery

What are you Willing to Pay?

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[Brayden Sharp]

…paying an extra 1% would ensure that garment workers in developing countries would be able to earn the living wage

The heat was on the fashion industry late last week after Oxfam reported that 100% of Bangladeshi garment worker’s wages were below the living wage, and that 99% of garment worker’s in Vietnam came in under this standard as well.

Perhaps more shockingly, Oxfam have stated that garment workers in Bangladesh are often taking home $169 a month. This is even more shocking when you consider that they often work 12 hours days.

The reason this is big new in Australia is because many of our big name brands source their products from Bangladesh and Vietnam. Oxfam pointed out that H&M, Big W, Myer, Bonds, and those labels under the Cotton On group, all relied on garment worker’s in Bangladesh and Vietnam for their clothing.

The problem with slavery and clothing is no new issue, the days of the Nike sweatshops are not that far in our rear vision mirrors, but it is disappointing to see that our society still hasn’t eradicated slave labour in the fashion industry.

Regular readers will remember how proud we were when the Modern Slavery Act came into force and what a big step that was in the fight against slavery. We recognise that it may take some time before big brands fully change their practices to comply with the new law (we still hope they get prosecuted hard if they don’t), however these changes are permanent and big brands need to stop cutting corners for cheaper sourcing of clothing.

Triple J discussed an interesting idea with an Oxfam employee after the release of the Oxfam study, where they discussed how paying an extra 1% would ensure that garment workers in developing countries would be able to earn the living wage.

This would effectively mean that a $49 piece of clothing would cost $49.50 and a $99 piece of clothing would cost $100.

As a guy who spends $4 for coffee that is close to me instead of $3 for coffee that is a little bit further away, I know that I wouldn’t care about paying an extra 1% for my clothes. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a firm believer of creating a budget and sticking to it, and I’ll fight my financial battles where I have to.

But this isn’t one of those battles. This is about the livelihood of between 3 and 4 million people in Bangladesh, and approximately 2.5 million people in Vietnam who are living of less money a month than what most of us make in a day or two.

We here at 30 Million to None completely endorse the idea put forward by Triple J and Oxfam to increase the cost of clothing by 1% so that big brands can ensure that they are sourcing clothes from factories that pay their workers a living wage. It’s 1% more for the everyday individual of our lucky country, but it’s a lifetime more for the 100% of Bangladeshi and 99% of Vietnamese garment workers.

Hell, I’ll even walk that little bit further for my coffee so that my budget stays tight.

Make Noise


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