Bet­ter wages a must

AUS­TRALIAN FASH­ION BRANDS MUST LIFT PAY GAME: OX­FAM RE­PORT SHOWS

Shepparton News - - NATIONALNEWS -

Fash­ion re­tail­ers have been urged to lift pay for fac­tory gar­ment work­ers fol­low­ing a re­port on the mea­gre wages.

Only four per cent of the price paid in Aus­tralia goes to­wards the wages of fac­tory work­ers, pre­dom­i­nantly in Asia, ac­cord­ing to a re­port com­mis­sioned by Ox­fam.

That is 40 cents out of the price of a $10 t-shirt.

It would take a Bangladeshi worker, earn­ing the min­i­mum wage, more than 4000 years to earn the same amount fash­ion in­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tives are paid in just one year.

Ox­fam wants Aus­tralian brands to pledge to in­crease work­ers’ wages within three to six years by work­ing with unions, fac­tory own­ers and gov­ern­ments.

The cost to com­pa­nies, or con­sumers, would be an in­crease of one per cent to the price of a piece of cloth­ing.

‘‘The ac­tual ad­di­tional cost is so low. And com­pa­nies are con­scious that they want to present them­selves as a good busi­ness, and how it deals with the sup­ply chain is an in­te­gral part of that,’’ Ox­fam Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Helen Szoke said.

The turnover in the gar­ment in­dus­try was $27 bil­lion in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Re­tail­ers in the re­search re­port, con­ducted by Deloitte Access Eco­nomics, in­clude Kmart, H&M, Target and Spe­cial­ity Fash­ion Group (Katies, Millers, Rivers, City Chic).

Ms Szoke said peo­ple should not boy­cott their favourite brands, be­cause that would take wages away from the work­ers al­to­gether.

‘‘We en­cour­age peo­ple to tell their favourite de­sign­ers their con­cerns and to sign up to make a com­mit­ment for change,’’ Ms Szoke said.

Af­ter the Rana Plaza fac­tory col­lapse which killed more than 1100 peo­ple in Bangladesh in 2013, Aus­tralian con­sumers pushed for a change in safety stan­dards.

In re­sponse, al­most all of Aus­tralia’s big­gest brands joined the Bangladesh Fire and Build­ing Safety Ac­cord.

Com­pa­nies have also been asked to keep their busi­ness in coun­tries which in­crease their min­i­mum wage to stave off fears of fash­ion brands re­lo­cat­ing.

In Bangladesh, gar­ment worker Anju, 25, de­scribes her strug­gle to pay of debts to her land­lord and debts at the local gro­cery store.

She stitches the front and back of sweaters to­gether for Spe­cialty Fash­ion Group at a pay rate of 37 cents an hour.

Her pay is based on the quan­tity of work she pro­duces and not the hours and if she does not meet her target re­quire­ment she is re­fused pay for the day.

The mother-of-two de­scribed her an­guish at send­ing away her daugh­ters, aged eight and 10, to live with her in-laws, be­cause she can­not af­ford to house them safely where she lives for work.

In­stead, she only gets to see them twice a year.

‘‘If we got more money, we would stay in a bet­ter house. There would be a lot of changes,’’ she said.

BRIS­BANE: Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk has called a snap state elec­tion for Satur­day, Novem­ber 25.

While there has been lit­tle be­tween La­bor and the Lib­eral Na­tional Party in re­cent polls, Ms Palaszczuk has a far higher ap­proval rat­ing over Op­po­si­tion Leader Tim Ni­cholls and will start as favourite.

Both the gov­ern­ment and LNP go into the elec­tion on 41 seats and need to win a to­tal of 47 to govern in their own right.

Com­pul­sory pref­er­en­tial vot­ing has also been rein­tro­duced at this elec­tion.

Pic­ture: AP/Man­ish Swarup

Change needed: It would take a Bangladeshi worker, earn­ing the min­i­mum wage, more than 4000 years to earn the same amount fash­ion in­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tives are paid in just one year.

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