Swooning over fashion?
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It's a catch 22
In 2011 alone over 2400 workers fainted due to poor diet and overwork, and were taken to hospital in 25 separate incidences. Unions say many more go unrecorded.
In the Cambodian garment industry, over 90% of workers are women, aged 18-35. Many of these have children and families to provide for, yet with escalating living costs in housing, food, clothing, education, transport and health care, the minimum wage simply is not enough.
“The human cost of brands like H&M or Zara paying poverty wages is seen when hundreds of workers pass out due to exhaustion and malnutrition. If you can't afford to pay for enough food for yourself and your children, what would you do? It's a catch 22,” said Jeroen Merk from the International Clean Clothes Campaign. “For decades, global fashion brands have made excuses about why they shouldn't pay a living wage. Its not a choice, its a pressing necessity. Hiding behind the economic crisis and company codes of conduct is no longer acceptable when talking about human rights violations.”
Evidence shows that although the monthly minimum wage for Cambodia's factory workers is 61 USD, a 'living wage' is more than 4 times this amount.
Athit Kong, Vice President of the Cambodian trade union C.CADWU said “Workers cannot survive on these low wages.”