The global garment industry is infamous for its labour sweatshops in developing countries. Workers are grossly underpaid and work under despicable conditions – producing for a global apparel market valued at around three trillion dollars. They get paid less than the living wage – the wage required by a worker to meet the basic needs of a family unit of four (two adults, two children) in order to maintain a decent quality of life.
The living wage is different from minimum wage for labour as fixed by the governments of different countries. Garment workers in the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China-- get paid only around half of the living wage required to support a decent standard of living.
Workers on an average need to be paid an additional 35 per cent over the living wage to offset the financial demands of income tax and social security. Agricultural workers are actually the lowest paid in the garment supply chain. While garment factory workers are paid around half the living wage, agricultural workers get paid even less in all the four countries. On an average, in Asia, garment workers get about one-third of the minimum living wage. In India, a monthly minimum living wage is Rs 18,727 – without overtime payment and benefits.