Why is the living wage important?

Fast fashion, the industry model that rules our high streets, and relies on a simple foundation: selling more for less. Shops transfer large quantities of clothes at very cheap prices with high turnover rates as fresh trends are released in stores every few weeks. This model is fabricated on exploitation that pushes workers to the bottom on price. The heavy competition puts factory owners under pressure to offer garments at the lowest cost possible, meaning corners are cut on health and safety and wages are kept at poverty levels. Wages in many global supply chains have come under pressure and at the same time we have seen sometimes dramatic efforts by workers to have their voice heard in demanding better wages; in Bangladesh, India, China, Cambodia and even here in the UK.

The fashion industry turns over £1.2 trillion a year worldwide, yet workers can earn as little as $21 a month. Low wages are the consequence of fast fashion’s production and consumption. ‘Many costs concerning manufacture, such as machine running costs, are fixed, so wages become the flexible element and are pushed to poverty levels.’

Our blog this week, visually presents the expense of what we consider a basic weekly food shop, in relation to the wages of textile factory workers in Bangladesh, China, India, Cambodia and UK.



1KG Chicken: 230৳

­­­­­12 Eggs:104৳

1KG Potatoes:24৳

1 Loaf Bread:245৳

1L Milk: 73৳

1KG Tomatoes: 57৳

1KG Rice: 54৳

1KG Apple: 152৳

1KG Bananas: 67.50৳

     LIVING WAGE                     



The Bangladesh Living Wage for a single adult is about 8000৳(£72.46) a week. The expense of this simple food shop for workers in Bangladesh individually totals to 1006৳ (£9.11). and an Apartment (1 bedroom) is roughly 1,860৳(£16.84) weekly, meaning they can buy this food shop 5 times over and still have income left over.

 However, the Bangladesh Minimum Wage for a Single Adult is 1300৳ (£11.77) a week but only if the worker held three full-time minimum-wage jobs. They'd be earning 1300৳(£11.77), just under the 1,860৳(£16.84) needed to afford rent and have just about enough of income left over for food. The worker would have to work about 122 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, just to cover rent let alone food costs.


1kg Chicken: 25.26 ¥

12 Eggs: 12.08 ¥

1kgPotatoes: 5.85¥

1Loaf Bread: 10.74 ¥

1LMilk: 12.67 ¥

1kgTomatoes: 8¥

1kgRice: 6.84 ¥

1kgApple: 10.92 ¥

1kgBananas: 8.86 ¥

    LIVING WAGE                     


When looking into the China Living Wage, a Single Adult would be earning about 4592¥ (£31.57) a week. The expense of this simple food shop for workers in China totals to 101¥ (£0.69) and an apartment (1 bedroom) being 1679¥ (£11.54) weekly, means nearly 50% of income is left over. The left over income of a living wage can cover 5 months’ worth of this food shop.

In comparison to the China Minimum Wage, a single adult working in a factory earns a shocking 121¥ (£0.83) a week. This means rent would have to be located in a more rural area in tougher conditions. The weekly food would need to be stripped down 25% in order to afford to live. ­


1kg Chicken: 198₹

12 Eggs: 65 ₹

1kg Potatoes: 24.02 ₹

1 Loaf Bread: 29.50 ₹

1L Milk: 45 ₹

1kg Tomatoes: 32.50 ₹

1kg Rice: 50 ₹

1kg Apple: 122.50 ₹

1kg Bananas: 41.36 ₹

 LIVING WAGE                     


The living wage for a single adult in India is 1125₹ (£12.48) weekly. The expense of this simple food shop for workers in India totals to 608₹ (£6.74) and renting an apartment (1 bedroom) is around 275 ₹ (£3.05) a week leaving 850₹ (£9.42) left over to purchase this food shop nearly twice over.

 In comparison to the minimum wage in India, where factory workers earn 880₹ (£9.76) a week after paying rent this would leave workers only 605₹ (6.71) left to just about afford this basic food shop once over.


1kg Chicken: $9.97

12 Eggs: $5.00

1kg Potatoes: $2.53

1 loaf Bread$5.42

1L Milk: $2.90

1kg Tomatoes: $4.11

1kg Rice: $2.62

1kg Apple: $5.53

1kg Bananas: $2.90

 LIVING WAGE                    


The living wage in Cambodia for a single adult is $182 (£139.03) weekly. The expense of this simple food shop for workers in Cambodia totals to $40.98 (£31.30) meaning $141 (£107.70) is left for paying rent. An apartment (1 bedroom) costs around $46 (£35.14) a week which means even the living wage is cutting it thin for any other living expenditure.

The minimum wage in Cambodia is $125 (£95.48) which is a shocking $62 (£47.36) a week! This can just touch the cost of rent. But the current minimum wage isn’t enough to cover expenses of food, and only leaves $16 (£12.22) to buy food so workers must work overtime to meet financial obligations.


1kg Chicken: £5.25

12 Eggs: £1.78

1kg Potatoes: £1.70                         

1 Loaf Bread £0.97

1L Milk: £0.78

1kg Tomatoes: £1.75

1kg Rice: £0.70

1kg Apple: £1.62

1kg Bananas: £1.35

LIVING WAGE                       


The living wage for a single adult in Leicester is £328 weekly. An apartment (1 bedroom) costs around £145 a week and the expense of this simple food shop for workers in Leicester totals to £15.91.  This leaves £167 left over and can cover 3 months’ worth of this food shop.

However, reports have shown that the minimum Wage in Leicester has been abused to a shocking £120 a week for factory workers. To survive, workers can only live on the bare minimum of food. Leicester has 700 textile factories which can make a million clothes a week for booming online retailers. Most do comply with the law, but a number of small places ignore the rules. Workers labour for as little as £3 an hour making clothes to feed our “fast fashion” craze and can barely afford rent of a basic food shop.

If you consider the expense of rent and other living factors, the wages are just too low for even a basic lifestyle. By treating our clothes as disposable we are fuelling a system that oppresses and exploits workers. A £4 dress is only a ‘bargain’ because someone somewhere is paying the true price: the garment workers. The fashion industry, turning out endless cheap clothes for changing trends, does so at a human cost.


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