Garment Workers Diaries – The lives and wages of garment workers
The Garment Worker Diaries is a yearlong research project led by Microfinance Opportunities in collaboration with Fashion Revolution and supported by C&A Foundation. We are collecting data on the lives of garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and India. Fashion Revolution will use the findings from this project to advocate for changes in consumer and corporate behavior and policy changes that improve the living and working conditions of garment workers everywhere.
Dozens of beige colored garment factories line the streets on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Ten-foot high walls, metal gates, and security checkpoints at the entrances guard the compounds. Early in the morning, garment workers who live nearby leave their homes—often a 70 square foot room with an accompanying toilet—and enter these factories by the thousands to begin their workday. For the next eight to 12 hours, they cut and sew clothes for major clothing labels, who sell the finished products to you and billions of other people across the globe. When the workers emerge, many complain of headaches and chronic pain in their arms and backs, aggravated by the repetitive motions of their work. They perform this routine six days a week, and for their work, the government of Cambodia mandates that factory owners pay them a minimum of $140 per month, or seventy cents an hour based on a 50-hour workweek. The situations in Bangladesh and India are similar. Hundreds of thousands of workers labor long hours in the hope of receiving the minimum wage, which is set at $68 and $105 per month respectively.
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