BANGLADESH: Doubling wages would add 2p to T-shirt cost
Doubling the wages of a textile worker in Bangladesh would add just 2p to the cost of a T-shirt bought on the UK high street, according to calculations.
Using figures supplied by textile workers' unions in Bangladesh, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said wages are as low as GBP27 (US$41.50) a month, and that workers are usually paid 12p for the six T-shirts they are expected to make every hour.
As they work about 200 hours a month, this works out to roughly 2p per T-shirt, the TUC said.
"It isn't UK consumers - trying to make their wages stretch further as their living standards take a hit - who are to blame for life and labour being cheap in Bangladesh," said TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady.
"Wages paid out to the thousands of women who work in the clothing factories are just a tiny fraction of the end price we pay at the till.
"It's the multinational companies - the brands, retailers and manufacturers who are all well-known names on our high streets - who bear the responsibility. They are the ones who must change their behaviour and encourage their overseas suppliers to pay higher wages and improve working conditions, not UK consumers."
The comments came after a another fatal fire in a Bangladesh apparel factory happened on Wednesday, killing eight people. The fire at the Tung Hai Sweater company comes just a fortnight after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, where the death toll has now risen to over 1,000.
Global union IndustriAll is calling for an immediate increase in Bangladesh apparel worker wages from BDT3,000 (US$38.4) a month to BDT5,000, to be followed by incremental increases each year to arrive at a living wage in 2015, following a process currently under way in Vietnam.
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