Fashion Revolution has released data relating to a new cohort of 1,300 workers throughout Bangladesh. It first collaborated with the NGO Microfinance Opportunities in 2016 to introduce the Garment Worker Diaries (GWD) – a research project documenting the lives of garment workers across Southeast Asia. This data, which provides a comprehensive overview of the lives of workers: from their wages and working hours to factory conditions and education, will now be used in tandem with Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index and the Open Apparel Registry (OAR). This, to create an in-depth assessment of workers, their pay and the brands they produce for.
Since the start of the year, Fashion Revolution (FR) and its partner Microfinance Opportunities has honed in on Bangladeshi garment workers from across different regions to create a representative picture of the living wages paid across the country and how they stand up against recommendations from industry watchdogs. The collaborating firms first introduced the Garment Worker Diaries in 2016; a year-long project which gathered weekly data from 180 female workers across Cambodia, India and Bangladesh to assess the state-of-play and how pay corresponded with the livelihoods of these employees.
It’s now gone further with a look at the Bangladesh industry in particular, from which it can corroborate the data it accumulates with FR’s Fashion transparency Index – which has reviewed and ranked 200 retailers and brands according to their social and environmental policies, practices and impact – and the OAR, which serves an open source map and database of global apparel facilities and their affiliations.
“It was not easy to match the information on the supplier lists provided by the brands to the public lists of factories published by the Government of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Accord, and the Alliance,” admitted Guy Stuart, Head of Microfinance Opportunities.
“The supplier lists were rife with inconsistent and incomplete names and addresses of factories, making it difficult for us to be sure that the factory where a worker is employed is the same one as the factory identified on a brand’s supplier list. Nevertheless, we were able to identify 575 workers who worked in 174 factories supplying 60 brands,” he added.
The online resource is therefore able to link Bangladeshi workers to the companies they produce for. FR gives the example of Bibi, a worker in Savar, whose living wage equates to around £92.50 (or 9,486 Taka) a month. This is after working, on average, 215 hours, broken down into eight hour shifts, six days a week.
FR notes that while this is 18 per cent higher than the legal minimum, it is still 31 per cent less than the most conservative living wage calculations for that region. It’s cited that the Asia Floor Wage initiative values a living rate at £367.87 (37,661 Taka). Via the online resource, users can learn of the circumstances of workers across regions including Dhaka, Gazipur and Chittagong, working for leading brands such as the H&M Group, C&A, Columbia Sportswear, Gap Inc., Esprit and Lululemon. The transparency tool will enable brands and their suppliers to be held to account if cases of inadequate pay are to surface, forcing brands and retailers to remain diligent.