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Indian garment workers get 51 per cent less minimum wages

India’s 50.7 per cent of workers working in the garment sector earn less than the minimum wages, which is worse than all but Philippines, where 53.3 per cent of workers in the sector earn less than the minimum wages. In Vietnam, only 6.6 per cent workers in the sector earn less than minimum wages, in Combodia it is 25.6 per cent, in Pakistan 37.4 per cent, in Thailand 37.5 per cent, and in Indonesia 39.1 per cent.

According to Oxfam, when the policy for enforcing the minimum wage criterion is enforced, in India, as elsewhere in the seven countries studied, things go “more to the benefit of men than women. As per the study in Pakistan’s garment sector, 86.9 per cent of women are paid less than the minimum wage, while the figure for men is 26.5 per cent. India, the Philippines and Thailand also have double-digit gender compliance gaps. In India, 74 per cent males working in the sector get minimum wages, as against 45.3 per cent females.

The study states “In countries like India and the Philippines, at least one in every two workers in the garment sector are paid below the minimum wage.” It estimates, “It would take 941 years for a minimum wage worker in rural India to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment company earns in a year.

The study further says, it would take around 17.5 days for the best paid executive at a top Indian garment company to earn what a minimum wage worker in rural India will earn in their lifetime (presuming 50 years at work).

It adds, it would cost around Rs 326 million a year to ensure 14,764 minimum wage workers in rural India were paid a living wage. This is about half the amount paid out to wealth shareholders of a top Indian garment company.