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Just 4 Percent of What Australians Spend on Clothing Goes to Garment Workers

Just four cents from every dollar Australians spend on clothing makes it back to workers enduring "horrific" conditions in garment factories, a new report has found.

Just 4 Percent of What Australians Spend on Clothing Goes to Garment Workers

The report adds to pressure on Australia's big clothing retailers, including Kmart, Big W, and Target, to act faster on their ethical sourcing programs.

An analysis of clothing supply chains, conducted by Deloitte for Oxfam Australia, shows just 4 percent of what Australians spend on clothing goes to the wages of workers in garment factories across the globe. In Bangladesh, it’s as low as 2 percent.

Bumping up the price of clothing by just 1 percent would be enough to give garment workers a living wage, the analysis found. That is only 20 cents extra for a $20 t-shirt.

Oxfam chief executive, Helen Szoke, said clothing retailers, which make huge profits, could lift garment workers out of poverty with very little difference to their bottom line.

“I’ve actually been to Dhaka, and we visited some of the facilities. And it just reminded me of being a chicken coup, these little tin sheds with a common corridor often built in really unhealthy circumstances,” Szoke said. “People pile on top of each other, there are babies ... it’s really horrific. And I think the worst thing is that these are people working horrendously long hours, and they’re still trapped in poverty,” she said.

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The report adds to pressure on Australia's big clothing retailers, including Kmart, Big W, and Target, to act faster on their ethical sourcing programs.

An analysis of clothing supply chains, conducted by Deloitte for Oxfam Australia, shows just 4 percent of what Australians spend on clothing goes to the wages of workers in garment factories across the globe. In Bangladesh, it’s as low as 2 percent.

Bumping up the price of clothing by just 1 percent would be enough to give garment workers a living wage, the analysis found. That is only 20 cents extra for a $20 t-shirt.

Oxfam chief executive, Helen Szoke, said clothing retailers, which make huge profits, could lift garment workers out of poverty with very little difference to their bottom line.

“I’ve actually been to Dhaka, and we visited some of the facilities. And it just reminded me of being a chicken coup, these little tin sheds with a common corridor often built in really unhealthy circumstances,” Szoke said. “People pile on top of each other, there are babies ... it’s really horrific. And I think the worst thing is that these are people working horrendously long hours, and they’re still trapped in poverty,” she said.

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Just 4 Percent of What Australians Spend on Clothing Goes to Garment Workers