Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

her landlord.
They share a tiny kitchen and even smaller toilet and bathing area. Running water is available for one hour, just three times a day. One of Fatima’s roommates owns a thin single mattress, but Fatima sleeps on the concrete floor. Fatima earns her meagre wage making our clothes. But no matter how hard she works, she is trapped in a cycle of poverty. Fatima’s story is echoed by far too many among the millions of women who make our clothes, earning poverty wages to fuel an industry that has boomed over the past two decades. New research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics for Oxfam has revealed that in the average supply chain of Australian garment retailers, just 4% of the price of a piece of clothing is estimated to make it back to the pockets of workers. That is just 40 cents from a $10 T-shirt. In countries like Bangladesh, where wages are extremely low, the situation is even direr. An average of just 2% of the price we pay in Australia goes towards factory wages. That means just 20 cents out of the price of a $10 T-shirt. But Oxfam argues that paying living wages — wages that allow the women who make our clothes to live a decent life — is possible.2 Even if big companies passed the entire cost of paying living wages to all workers on to consumers, Deloitte estimates this would increase the price of a piece of clothing sold in Australia by just 1%. That is just 10 cents extra for a $10 T-shirt. With profits being made at the factory, wholesale and retail levels in garment supply chains, there is room for big brands to absorb these costs without passing them on to the people who buy their clothes. Women aged 18–25 make up 80% of the factory workers in the global garment industry. Their long hours of challenging work have help

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