NEWS

'Poverty Wages': Women Fashion Workers Trapped In 'Grossly Unfair System'

Oxfam wants workers to be paid with dignity .

29/10/2017 8:24 AM AEDT | Updated 29/10/2017 8:24 AM AEDT
Jianan Yu / Reuters
Garment workers are being paid very low wages, Oxfam says.

Just 4 per cent of the price of a garment sold by major Australian brands is paid to the factory worker who made it, a new Oxfam report reveals.

The report, What She Makes: Power and Poverty in the Fashion Industry, showed an even worse situation in Bangladesh where an average 2 per cent of an item's price goes to factory workers.

That equates to just 20¢ from a $10 shirt.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said the "women making the clothes Australians love and wear are being denied decent lives by being paid poverty wages".

"(They are) unable to afford even the basics no matter how hard they work," Szoke said.

"Women are working six-day weeks and as much overtime as they can, yet they are forced to live in slums, often separated from their children and families and going hungry as they struggle to make it to their next pay."

Oxfam's research, undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics, found that workers in places like China and Indonesia could be paid a living wage if Australians paid just one per cent more for clothing.

To motivate change, Oxfam has released a live company tracker to publicly monitor Australia's leading fashion retailers -- brands such as Kmart, Big W, Bonds, Cotton On and Just Jeans -- and their progress on paying living wages.

"It is time for this grossly unfair system to end," Szoke said on Sunday.

"Brands have the power and responsibility to ensure workers are paid enough to live with basic dignity.

"Together we can hold brands accountable for what women make – telling them loud and clear the time has come to pay living wages."

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