September 14, 2007
War on Want is making noises again about how little sweatshop workers are paid in factories overseas.
Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer for War on Want, said: "This report exposes retailers' empty rhetoric on ethical treatment for workers who make their clothes but remain trapped in poverty." Staff in Bangladesh earn 7% of a UK living wage - even taking into account the cheaper cost of living. This compares with 9% of a UK living wage earned by the average garment worker in India, 11% in China and Vietnam, 14% in Thailand and 25% in Morocco.
Lessee, Bangladesh is poorer than India, which is poorer than China and Vietnam, which is poorer than Thailand which is poorer than Morocco which is poorer than the UK. Amazing how this works, isn't it? People in poor countries get lower wages. Almost as if there's some sort of connection between people getting low wages and a country being poor or something.
Why not do something about it then? Like, ooooh, maybe pay people in Bangladesh a UK style living wage? The obvious answer then being that we'd use Bangladeshis living in England to do the work, leaving those in Bangladesh without any wages at all.
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When I read remarks like that I'm always kicking myself that I can't recall or source the exact details behind a story I read in the Economist a couple of years ago.
An 'EU Action Group' (I know, stick with it!) was visiting an Indian factory that made running shoes for the US market. Prior to the visit the group issued a press release criticising the wages (2% of the cost of each shoe etc.) and saying the EU were keen to expose and put an end to this exploitation.
On arrival at the factory they were stoned by a mob of c.80 locals who'd been really struggling in the months before the factory opened - it was a lifeline for the community. The EU group beat a hasty retreat.....
Posted by: Cassilis | Sep 14, 2007 11:15:21 AM