29 Sep Low prices on everything, every day.
I’ve noticed myself having heated conversations lately about the price of clothing. Mathematically, fabric production + printing & dying + garment worker wages + shipping + retail mark-up in most cases does not reflect the true value of a garment.
The TV ad below has been running in Australia for the past few months for one of our major retail chains. The characters in the ad are shopping in a stupefied manner, throwing themselves on products and making startled remarks about the ridiculously low prices.
And so they should. How on earth can a T-shirt end up in a retail shop for $3.00?
While we shop in our bargain bin bliss, not so close to home on the other side of the globe, there are tragedies of the most horrific kind occurring.
DHAKA, Bangladesh, 16th September 2012. Up to 100,000 garment factory workers riot just outside the city over poor wages, unsafe conditions, and long working hours.
Bangladesh’s 3 million garment workers typically work between 10-16 hour shifts every day, with the worlds lowest textile wage, starting at US$37/month. The country has just emerged as the worlds second largest garment exporter behind China, employing 40% of the countries industrial workforce. The sector is said to be the countries mainstay of it’s poverty stricken economy and people.
Protests of this kind are constantly recurrent in the industry, while the government often employs brute force to dampen the unrest in an effort to pacify buyers concern over delayed shipments.
Which brings me to the question, what kind of people are we in the first world to expect or even demand the low prices that we are constantly seeking? Is it fair that we turn a blind eye to the real situation of ‘low prices on everything every day’? Is advertising really that powerful in an everyday household that we could be blinded by this kind of guilt free consumerism?
Ignorance is certainly not bliss. Our consumer habits most definitely need to change if these people have any hope for the future.