Exhilim: don’t know how but I typed that all wrong. I intended on doing a comparison for a busy ‘Western’ working week (40 hrs max), except I seem to have never made it. We have a minimum wage in place, as well as extra money for working overtime. We can ask for a raise without consequences, we can question the health and safety of our workplace (even sue!) without consequence and we can question our authority to a degree that sweatshop workers can only dream of. They work on average 15-20 hours per day, 5 days a week. If we use 15 hrs, that makes 75 hrs (5 days)… That’s often from 5am until late in the evening and it applies to children as young as 9. Average wages seem to be $0.06- 0.08 cents an hour.
I don’t deny that it’s not just as a preserve of developing countries, but I’m betting that your situation isn’t nearly as bad. To you, struggling for a next paypacket means you’ve got to pay for electricity, gas, a tv license, a computer/laptop, rent for a place of your choice, the luxury clothing you have made by them… you can still affort it somewhat, even on credit. Many garment workers live in accomodation owned (often in slums or in slum-like conditions) by the factory owners, normally with many other people in a small room, or in a tiny house of their own without all the mod-cons that we enjoy. It’s not difficult to see who’s living a harder life & for what? Material possessions that we so willingly chuck away when we realise what a huge fashion mistake they are or when they’re no longer in trend.
This can relate back to the environment — chucking things away without giving a thought to what happens. What’s happening is that our landfills are being filled up at too high a rate. Not only that, but textile workers often work with toxic, synthetic and non-biodegradable materials (dyes, etc). Green credentials? Not for that product, that’s for certain. Not only that, but retailers and supermarkets aren’t only shafting the workers, but consumers as well. Guess who’s laughing all the way to the bank?