PayUp for Bangladesh: the reality of Capitalism motivated by misanthropic greed
BY: Qudsia Saeed
Amid the ongoing global pandemic, it was revealed that major fashion brands have not paid their garment workers in Bangladesh—pushing an industry of nearly 4.5 million vulnerable workers to the brink of destitution, starvation, and homelessness.
Major fast-fashion brands including JCPenny, Ross, GAP, Kohl’s, and Forever 21 are withholding payment of $3 billion from factories for orders which have already been shipped. Only 14.8% of these workers were compensated for their labor in April, while 72% of buyers refused to pay for raw materials and over 91% refused to cover the production costs. The severity of this situation can’t be stressed enough, as Bangladesh's economic stability relies on its Ready-Made Garment sector which is the biggest employer as well as the biggest export earner in the economy.
The hashtag #PayUp gained traction on social media platforms proving that fashion brands who publicly stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement practiced performative activism and continued to exploit the labor of marginalized communities abroad. These companies promised to improve working conditions after the devastating Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 which killed over 1,000 workers and injured nearly 2,500, however, progress has not been made and the factories are just as prone to another unfortunate catastrophe.
Bangladeshi garment workers, predominantly female, work 10-12 hour every day for the mere monthly minimum wage of $96, while the companies utilize their talent and hard work to earn profits ranging from $50-$200 per product in their retail stores. How is it humane and just for Kylie Jenner to continue to invest in lavish property while her workers struggle to pay the rent?
Instead of overlooking this as yet another drama revolving around Kylie Jenner, we need to address the underlying problems of corporate greed in the fast-fashion industry. To put it bluntly, this isn’t new, this is rather historical and systemic—developed nations have impoverished the developing since the Industrial Revolution and colonization to widen the wealth gap, making it harder for developing countries to accumulate wealth as they continue to rely on the developed.
This phenomenon of dependency was studied by Wallerstein, who in his World’s system’s theory examined that inequality and poverty were perpetuated by the capitalist elite and multinational corporations, due to the lack of accountability. We see the exploitation of workers worldwide, and pertinent examples of this include the Congolese mine workers, the Peruvian farmers, and the construction workers in Qatar.
The shirt you bought at a bargain last week came at the expense of an innocent family’s food and shelter, and we must collectively demand that these companies #PayUp.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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