Category: Research Briefs
Where is their piece of pie? – Coco
The question in the title is asked for the garment workers from sweatshops, as my first response after watching the documentary film “The True Cost”. Though I watched the movie occasionally, I found that this topic is indeed a necessary topic for design students to do something about. After watching the movie, I looked up more information about sweatshop, sweatshop workers, and the fast fashion industry.
The movie firstly introduces an accident in a garment factory. Not until the collapse of a factory building in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,000 garment workers, as the worst garment industry disaster in history – the Rana Plaza Tragedy, did the dark side of sweatshops and the fast fashion industry emerge to the public. According to an H&M representative, he says that “Instead of two seasons a year, we practically have 52 seasons a year, so we have something new coming in every week.” The rapid changing of trend leads to the extremely rapid speed required to make a garment; at the same time, the quality is also compressed with the extremely low cost.
A Chinese garment factory entrepreneur describes “Ultimately, something’s going to give. Either the price of the product has to go up, or manufacturers have to shut down, or cut corners to make it work.” I believe what he means “cut corners” is something not fair to the workers and the environment. Maybe the factory would choose ungraded cheap materials to make garment without providing protection for workers. The process of treating the waste materials before releasing to water or air may also be omitted.
However, it is the fast fashion companies who are obviously staying at the top of the value chain. They have the right to choose wherever to produce their products and whenever to switch their partner to whoever offers the lowest price. And the voice from the sweatshop workers who are working at the front line of the industry is hardly heard. The right of speech is always belonging to the one owns capital.
I was really shocked and angry while watching an interview of a Bangladesh garment worker. He says “I believe these clothes are produced by our blood… I don’t want another owner like the owner of Rana Plaza to take such a risk and force the workers to work in such conditions… I want the owners to be a little more aware and look after us.” Like the question from the title “Where is their piece of pie?”, I hope we can add more strength to the right of speech to the sweatshop workers. Therefore, I propose the next project would be focusing on sweatshop and the fast fashion industry.
Radin, Tara J., and Martin Calkins. “The Struggle Against Sweatshops: Moving Toward Responsible Global Business.” J Bus Ethics Journal of Business Ethics 66, no. 2-3: 261-72.
Morgan, Andrew. “The True Cost.” Movie. June 29, 2015. Life Is My Movie Entertainment Company.