The International Labour Organization (ILO) has just released their 2014/2015 Global Wage Report. While the report is not specifically focused on garment worker wages in fashion and apparel systems, it does overview global trends and highlights wage gaps, and I think it’s a good one to read through and bookmark to keep on hand.
With the report, the ILO has included a couple of short video clips explaining key terms, such as real wage and labour productivity, average wage and PPP$.
Canada’s QUEEN of fashion, Jeanne Beker, is guest curator for an upcoming exhibit at The Design Exchange on the intersection of politics and fashion!
The exhibit covers political fashion from 1960 to the present including a paper dress covered with Pierre Trudeau’s face during the Trudeaumania days, fur coats splattered by PETA, skinhead fashion, and a few pieces from Jeremy Scott’s Arab Spring collection.
Here is Jeanne Beker chatting with the KING of radio, Jian Ghomeshi (big fans!), on Q today and doing an AMAZING job discussing fashion theory, elucidating on the deeper meanings behind fashion, and even adding a few points on second-hand clothing, consumerism, fast fashion, cultural appropriation and thoughtlessness within the fashion industry:
“IS FASHION EVER REALLY GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD? I DON’T KNOW, BUT I THINK IT CAN MAKE US A LITTLE MORE AWARE OF WHO WE ARE AS INDIVIDUALS.” -Jeanne Beker
This exhibit is definitely on our #fashionbucketlist next time we’re in Toronto! Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics runs from September 18th – January 25th, 2015.
A worker’s sign demanding $160/month minimum wages | Image taken at a rally by Mu Sochua, a Cambodian opposition party MP [click the photo to go to her blog].
Last week, Mary reported on the violent protests in Cambodia which included garment workers who have been demonstrating against a proposed minimum wage increase to US$100/month. The workers have asked for US$160/month which still falls short of the living wage proposed by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance [see the report entitled Latest Asia Floor Wage figure in Local Country Currencies (2012)] of KHR 1178814.60/month which is equivalent to something between US$283-294/month, depending on the exchange rate.
It is important to add that these demonstrations are not limited to wage issues. As I wrote on January 4th on the SA facebook page:
“Keep in mind that this is not just about wages but also stems from a complicated alliance between the numerous unions & the opposition party to challenge Hun Sen’s 28-year rule. This is part of an ongoing movement kickstarted by the July 2013 election which the opposition believes was rigged. They have since boycotted parliament, calling for new elections in daily rallies in Phnom Penh. And in the middle of all this politics is the fashion supply chain.“
For a bit more on the background to these protests, listen to the following conversation from the CBC’s As it happens (Jan. 3rd):
Here are some updates specific to the garment industry angle of this story:
Today’s news reports (see also here) confirm that the protests are suspended (for now) as unions advised workers to go back to work. Union leaders plan a meeting to regroup and rethink their protest strategy.
Sithi.org uploaded an open letter from some brands to Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, the Council of the Ministers, the Chairman of GMAC and union leaders calling for a peaceful resolution of this conflict and expressing deep concern over the violence writing further that “[o]ur primary concerns are for the security and safety of the workers employed by our suppliers and the long-term stability of the Cambodian garment industry.” The brands added “[w]e believe that the only way to resolve this dispute is to cease all forms of violence, and for stakeholders to enter into good faith negotiations, allowing workers to safely return to work without fear of repercussions as soon as possible.” Kudos to the signatory brands: H&M, Gap Inc., Inditex, Adidas Group, Puma, Levi Strauss & Co., and Columbia.
Finally, to add an international political economy dimension to these protests, there is a report (see also here) that details the South Korean embassy’s involvement in back channel dealings pressing the Cambodian government to protect Korean interests. South Korea was the largest investor in Cambodia in 2012.
This story is ongoing and we’ll do our best to continue the updates on a regular basis. In the meantime, keep up with events over our Fb page and our twitter feed.
“Over the last 15 years, Kate’s original thinking and progressive outlook has infused the field of fashion, textiles and sustainability with design thinking, and come to define it. Kate is one of the founders of the ‘slow fashion’ movement and instigator of directional sustainability projects, including Local Wisdom, which has engaged hundreds of people worldwide with the ‘craft of use’ and ‘post-growth’ fashion and was shortlisted for the Observer Ethical Awards in 2010.” (Emily Carr)
When? January 17, 2013 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Where? South Building, Room 301, Emily Carr, 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island –Vancouver, Canada
This event is free and open to the public but you must register your place online – space is limited!
Mayamiko Trust is holding a fundraising event for their efforts in supporting women in Malawi through training and education, with all proceeds going towards building a skills and production centre.
‘Spark’, a creative fundraising event, will be held at Corbet Place, London (just off Brick Lane) on Oct. 26th at 7:00pm. The night will feature responsible designers, musicians, performers and artists.