This Short Doco Unpacks The “Modern Day Slavery Industry” Of Garment Workers In Asia

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 3 years ago | News

Image: The aftermath of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangledesh. Image source.

If, like us, you understand someone, somewhere, is paying the price for how cheap our clothes have become, this new documentary, Living Wage Now, is required viewing.

Living Wage Now is produced by the Asia Floor Alliance, which is a collective of labour rights groups, currently petitioning for change at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, and Living Wage Now provides an unflinching depiction of why immediate change is so important.

The documentary interviews garment industry workers in Indonesia, India, Cambodia, and Bangladesh, as well as industry experts, and argues that, while all inputs into the fashion production supply chain are increasing in price, the cost of clothing is decreasing in price, and that this is creating, according to Anna McMullen, Director of Labour Behind The Label in the UK, a "modern day slavery industry".

According to Amit Singh, a Bangladesh factory owner: "The fabric has become expensive. Petroleum products have become expensive. Air freight has become expensive. Labour costs have become expensive. Basic living has become expensive. But the garment has to be cheaper. From where?"

The answer is: by reducing the cost of labour, as Coen Kompier, Senior Labour Specialist for International Labour Organisation, explains: "To keep production as cheap as possible, in globalisation a major issue is to do it at the detriment of workers."

The consequences for the workers who are trapped – there really is no other word to describe their predicament – in this system are horrific. One female garment factory worker interviewed for Living Wage Now said: "The supervisor in the factory treats me unfairly. He made advances and I turned him down. After that he has given em no work. On top of that he has made threats. These threats include rape and murder."

Watch the documentary below to understand the true cost those cut-price garments.

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