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Fashion companies take advantage of Ethiopia’s low wages

Ethiopia has been described as the garment industry’s “new frontier for low-paid labour” as Ethiopian garment workers become some of the lowest paid in the world.

A recent publication by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights reports how increasing wages in countries like China and India has seen manufacturers move operations to the East African country. These manufacturers supply brands such as H&M and Gap.

According to the report the Ethiopian government aims to attract foreign investment with a base wage of just $26 a month.

To put that in perspective “Chinese garment workers earn $340 a month, those in Kenya earn $207 and those in Bangladesh earn $95.”

There is, however, some hope that Ethiopian garment workers may be able to secure better pay. Factories have seen many workers quit over the low pay and poor working conditions. 

This has led to some offering bonuses as well as allowances for food and transport manufacturers. It has also seen the Ethiopian Government begin to consider the introduction of a minimum wage.

Co-author of the report, Paul Barrat, wrote that “‘Made in Ethiopia’ doesn’t have to be a black mark on Western brands’ human rights records. It’s up to them to take the necessary steps to ensure that it doesn’t become one.”

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