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Fashion’s True Cost is at workers’ expense


1 June, 2015The latest exposé of the global fashion industry ‘The True Cost’, released on 29 May, once again shines the spotlight on the appalling conditions faced by the workers that produce our clothes.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina said ‘This is an important film that shows that fast fashion comes at a high cost.

“The appalling treatment of garment workers in global supply chains must be changed. The massive profits made by garment brands need to be translated into higher wages that workers can live on.”

As the film points out, nothing less than systemic change is needed. The garment brands have created an unsustainable sourcing model that enables them to maximize their profits at the expense of workers. They created it and they have the power to change it.

IndustriALL Global Union is going beyond describing the dramatic imbalance between garment workers’ wages and the profits high street brands are making. It is taking concrete action with garment brands to drive a fundamental change to the way that clothing is traded, to make sure that workers receive their share of the profits in the form of living wages.

Fundamental to this change is the empowerment of workers through trade unions. With affiliates in 140 countries, IndustriALL is working to strengthen unions in every country where garments are produced.  

Jyrki Raina, one of the architects of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a groundbreaking legally-binding agreement signed by over 200 global fashion brands, concludes:

We are working with the leading global clothing brands towards systemic change in the global textile industry.

Strong unions demanding and achieving higher wages for garment workers will prevent the global race to the bottom that sees brands moving production from country to country in the search for ever lower wages.

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

The Accord is designed to make safer workplaces in Bangladesh following the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed over 1,100 garment workers in April 2013. The Accord covers 2 million workers and has to date completed nearly 1,500 factory inspections and identified many thousands of safety issues to be remedied.