Fashion Isn’t All About Passion: Hidden Manpower Issues Behind the Garment Industry

Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Garment workers who suffer from low wages camouflage behind its glitz and glamour, masking the current labor struggle are the beauty in its very façade.

The UNICEF and the International Labor Organization reported that while this is one of the most important sectors of the global economy which creates jobs for the low skilled, this is also the same industry which exploits most of its workers.

Underpaid Fashion

garment worker

If not unpaid, some are underpaid. That is why garment workers are still equivalent to entry-level employees. Overtime is forced in most factories.

Garment workers make very little money. What is even more disturbing is that thousands, if not millions, of garment workers, are victims of human trafficking. Many corporations find it easy to keep their profits by keeping underpaid and indebted workers due to employment fees, rather than spending valuable resources to responsible and ethical recruitment that abides by the laws of international human rights.

World’s 40 million garment workers, 80% of which are women, are indeed under the quicksand of slave labor. It is in this light that the garment industry has provided jobs that help a lot of women to elevate their standards of living, but this never guarantees them with a better standard of life.

They still receive lesser pay than men even if living wages is as critical for women who take the primary role in providing for their family. In a report by Asia Floor Wage, wages paid to fashion workers are not enough to provide families with their basic needs.

Blood and Sweat

garment worker

Based on reports of the Human Rights Watch, nonstop clothing production drives garment workers to work to their limits. It is a common norm among clothing companies when overtime work doesn’t equate to higher pay.

They are forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Peak season is a different story. They must work until 2:00 or 3:00 am to meet the deadline for the fashion brand. Their low wage makes them not to refuse overtime. But in some unfortunate cases, overtime work is not even paid at all.

Failure to meet “unreachable” quotas may even be paid with verbal or physical abuses such as insult from supervisors, denied breaks, and worse, denial of water. Unfortunately, 60% of garments workers were unable to meet manufacturing targets.

Danger Zone

factory workers

Even with grave incidents of accidents and even deaths in many factories, many companies continue to disobey safety standards. Some even continue to place their workers in dangerous conditions.

This hidden truth in the fashion industry has claimed thousands of lives. The ill working condition and the poor sustainability of the industry to its manpower resources have been killing them from scandalous factory fire to accident-prone workplaces.

Workplace conditions include poor ventilation, high level of toxic substances, and fiber dust. This makes it prone for workers to acquire accidents, injuries, and diseases. Reported cases suggest that when a woman acquired a disease or get pregnant, she will either be demoted to lesser pay or fired immediately out of a medical issue.

Fashion, which is a female-dominated arena, has poorly-protected their workers. This is mainly because many big retail manufacturing company owners and managers are all still men.

Apart from responsible head hunting, ethical recruitment advocates revolutionizing the existing landscape of workplaces and jobsites to promote protection of workers, to stimulate attraction and to encourage retention, and to essentially leverage human resources as a major key for industry success.

ABOUT THE COMPANY: Rensol Recruitment and Consulting, Inc. is the fastest growing recruitment agency in The Philippines. A career consultant that aims to go above and beyond the level of expectations of both the aspirations of the candidates and the dream team standards of employers through providing exceptional opportunities and unparalleled quality-driven recruitment services.

A business administration graduate from De La Salle College of St. Benilde, Angelo is experienced in business development, market research, logistics and analytics. A self-proclaimed romantic, he started writing as a hobby where it slowly turned into a passion, he allows his emotions to flow through his literary works to capture the heart of his audience and deliver his ideologies through wordplay and creative thinking, his specialty is freewriting and poetry, but he is also venturing to short stories and novels.

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  1. […] The experiences of women in this industry is a reality for most apparel manufacturing sites in different parts of the world. Poverty wage, the dreadful working condition, neglected health and safety measures, denied breaks, and even abuses are common problems to name a few. […]

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