Everyone knows when they buy a new shirt from a high street store or supermarket, it’s likely that the person who made it was paid a pittance.
In countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Cambodia wages for garment workers fall below the UN defined poverty line of $2 per day.
Across Asia, the people who make our clothes, mainly women, earn half of what they need to meet their families’ basic needs, such as food and sending their children to school.
An uphill struggle
Retail giants like Primark, Tesco and Asda are able to demand ever lower prices from factories in developing countries, forcing wages down.
For the people who make our clothes this means the battle for better pay is a steep uphill struggle. Many are unable to join a union, and bosses tell workers that if they ask for higher pay the big western brands will take their business elsewhere.
As well as low wages, workers face harassment, bullying and even physical abuse if they don't do their jobs fast enough.
Women in factories commonly don’t drink water to avoid taking toilet breaks. Some don’t even stop to eat during the day.
Many UK retailers including Tesco and M&S are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative and have pledged to pay a living wage. Yet after many years, none have kept their promise.
ActionAid believes that paying a fair wage to workers is simple.
If retailers paid just ten pence more towards the cost of a cheap school uniform, workers’ wages could double.
That’s why ActionAid is joining forces with a new alliance of Asian garment workers to demand retailers pay a living wage once and for all. Add your voice here.