Working two retail jobs I am regularly folding or hanging up clothes thrown in a pile or on the floor. Looking at these large pile of clothes I cannot help but think about the people who made them and how they would feel with the way their hard work is treated. Instead of being admired and respected, each piece is no more than a mess filling the store. People are continuously buying cheap clothes that in the end are meant to fall apart, just to be trendy. Are companies selling to customers supporting those developing countries making the clothes by providing jobs, but at what price, is it hurting more than helping? What will we be taking away from our job force by offering production, making, selling, and buying jobs to other countries?
SUPPORTING DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, BUT AT WHAT PRICE?
People in today’s society are constantly trying to keep up with trends while staying under budget, which means cheap, low-cost apparel. Companies are happy to use developing countries such as Bangladesh or Cambodia because they can make large volume goods at a low cost to fill the needs of their customers.
Livia Firth ‘The True Cost’ Exec. Producer and UN Leader of change talks about her trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh, she says “we visited the factory in Dhaka, it was a game changer we were absolutely shocked because there was only one entrance to the factory. There was an armed guard to check workers on the way in and out. Inside there were three floors crowded with women and all windows had bars first thing you notice is that 'it's so hot', if anything happened like a fire there is no fire escape they cannot get out the windows can’t open.
The women had to produce 100 pieces per hour they had only two toilet breaks a day if they called in sick they would not be coming back to work the next day they were fired. This is my first time being exposed to this harsh reality of how the clothes were being made miles away from my home. Once you experience that you go home you can’t close an eye and say ‘ill go buy this anyway’”.
I am surprised to see that factory conditions in developing countries such as Dhaka have not changed much, considering the collapse of Rana Plaza that killed 1,127 workers and left another 2000 injured. If companies are going to continue to outsource they need to make sure that people are given proper human right and better working conditions. A lot of the people working in those factories are happy they can have a job and make money, but they should be able to do that without the fear of being injured or dying. They should be allowed sick days, frequent breaks and lower quotas of quantities. Factories should be properly constructed with extra fire exits and be allowed to have windows open.
START SUPPORTING OUR ECONOMY
` Is fast fashion hurting our Canadian job force by outsourcing to keep up with consumer demands? Sandro Contenta writes in The Star about one Canadian manufacturing company that had to shut down their shirt making business “At precisely that moment, in this very same factory, the owners of John Forsyth Shirt Co. told 110 employees that a century of shirt-making would end. The company, established in 1903, was closing its factory — the latest victim of a Canadian-made garment industry decimated by globalization and, in Forsyth’s case, government decisions.”
Forsyth’s is just one example of Canadians losing jobs to globalization, businesses keep sending their clothing production outside Canada. What about the Canadians that are looking for work and the people who want to start their own business, for people looking for production factories that would like to design locally? Wazana owner of Second Denim Co. “credits business success to being flexible in production according to fast changing trends, keeps his company domestic for ethical reasons after witnessing how poorly people were treated working in china’s factories. In Wazana’s decision to keep manufacturing locally in Quebec, it’s not about money to him it is about supporting the local job force.” If more companies were to produce and fully function in Canada, owners would know what the working condition are and be able to supply jobs to people in our country. There are a few manufacturing companies in Canada such as C&O Apparel and Toronto-based WS&CO. The government needs to start thinking about supporting our own economy, which means having the programs to train people for production jobs to allow the possibility for more Canadian bread companies to succeed.
Having clothes made in developing countries are boosting their economy while the job force in Canada continues to suffer. Apparel companies continue to mass produce need to be the first to start working ethically if outsourcing or start sourcing locally to support our own economies. Ethically if the companies continue to mass produce people will continue to buy. The government should create a lower limit on how much production is done overseas to equal out opportunities.