How important is having a ‘Made in Canada” label to Canadians?
As price conscious Canadians, many people look at the price tag before looking at the “made in” label. When looking at where a garment was made, most people do not consider the conditions of the factories where the garment was manufactured and the wages of the factory workers. Although dollar signs accompanied by small numbers may seem appealing, are we taking advantage of unfair wages and poor working conditions or are we supporting developing countries?
Who Really Made the Garment?
When purchasing a garment, most consumers don’t think of how it got from a raw material to a finished product. In developing countries, the factory workers are paid very small and insufficient wages. In fact, the wages are so low that in countries such as Cambodia and India workers will make slightly over $100 a month and workers in Bangladesh will make less than $100 a month, according to Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution during an interview TakePart. These salaries may not even be enough for what most Canadians may see as basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. The working conditions of the garment factories are extremely unsafe, and have even resulted in multiple deaths in countries such as Bangladesh. A consumer’s desire for cheap goods is what keeps these factories in the conditions they are and what keeps these garment factory workers to continue working for these extremely low wages. Although, in a way, we may be giving many people in these developing countries jobs, we are also taking advantage of the factories underpaid workers. If the working conditions were better, such as the factories being built into safe structures and the workers being paid fair wages, we would not be getting our garments from these countries for the drastically low prices we do. Although lots of Canadians care about these issues, many will not take the time to become educated on the extent of the working conditions in garment factories of developing countries or do not want to know so they will not feel guilty.
The Truth Revealed to Many Canadians after Joe Fresh Factory Fire
Many Canadians became aware of the extent of the awful conditions in garment factories of developing countries when the brand Joe Fresh, carried in Canadian retailers, had a fire in one of their factories in a developing country. The Rana Plaza in Bangladesh came crashing down, resulting in the death of more than 1,100 people according to an October 11 editorial by CBC news. Even after this disaster that was all over the news, many Canadians continued to support companies that have their clothes manufactured in factories in developing countries and even continued supporting brands that had their clothes manufactured in the Bangladesh garment factory that caught on fire.
Buying Fast Fashion is Supporting Jobs in Developing Countries
Although we are taking advantage of underpaid factory workers, we are also creating jobs in developing countries. Since so many companies are part of the fast fashion movement, which is trendy and cheap garments that change every few weeks rather than every season, slight changes have been made such as the Accord and Alliance’s enforcement of safety standards says Orsola de Castro during her interview with TakePart. Since so many people support fast fashion by buying the cheap garments and accessories, it may be impossible to get all Canadians to stop buying from companies that have their garments produced in developing countries. That being said, this could be the reason for the changes necessary to make the working conditions in these
countries slightly better. Although, the working conditions and wages are nowhere near where they should be for garment factory workers, the continuous purchases may create laws and safety policies and procedures that protect the workers.