Friday, July 19, 2013

How Much Do We Really Pay For Those Bargains?

There is a segment in the documentary, The Corporation, where Michael Walker of The Fraser Institute extols how corporations help developing nations by using their labour to make their products. If you watch the video below from 3:15 to about the 6:00 mark, you will hear his explanation:

While the claims made by Walker were nonsense in 2003, when the film was made, ten years later workers are experiencing even more exploitation. As reported in today's Star, based on a report published by the Center for American Progress, despite increasing orders from the West, the wages being paid to third-world workers are getting worse, and no one is receiving anything even remotely approaching a living wage.

Amongst the report's highlights:

Garment workers in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Cambodia saw the largest erosion in wages. Between 2001 and 2011 wages in these countries fell in real terms by 28.9 percent, 23.74 percent, and 19.2 percent, respectively.

In 5 of the top 10 apparel-exporting countries to the United States—Bangladesh, Mexico, Honduras, Cambodia, and El Salvador—wages for garment workers declined in real terms between 2001 and 2011 by an average of 14.6 percent on a per country basis. This means that the gap between prevailing wages and living wages actually grew.

Much more information is available through the above links for those interested, but perhaps one of the most important inferences we in the affluent part of the world can draw is that we really are paying much much more than we think whenever we seize upon 'bargain' garments, and contrary to popular corporate propaganda, the lives of those who help us indulge in our cost-saving passions are not being improved as a consequence.


  1. Workers are just another resource commodity to be exploited by free global markets.

    1. Such is the price of unfettered capitalism and globalization, it would seem, Beijing.