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AFWA urges clothing brands to focus on garment workers

A campaigner for higher wages in Asia has urged global clothing brands to take responsibility for the millions of workers in the region who are poorly paid by suppliers and ignored by governments. Incidentally, Asia accounts for more than 60 per cent of the world's garment production, with the industry employing more than 15 million people directly, most of them women.

According to Anannya Bhattacharjee, Coordinator with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), a supply chain lobby group, workers deserve a living wage because the minimum wage set by most Asian countries is inadequate to keep them out of poverty. Meanwhile, higher wages in China, the world's largest clothing exporter, are driving brands worldwide to seek cheaper alternatives in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Suppliers in these countries are under enormous pressure to reduce costs and produce garments as quickly as possible.

Wages in the garment industry are ‘structurally failing’ to meet workers' basic needs, leading to excessive overtime, ill health and workers being forced to live apart from their families, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, which is a member of AFWA.