Better wages a must
AUSTRALIAN FASHION BRANDS MUST LIFT PAY GAME: OXFAM REPORT SHOWS
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.
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.