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BRIC garment workers underpaid

Western European garment industry workers in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries earn only half of the living wage. While globalisation has made Western European clothing supply chain fairer by increasing employment opportunities and income for workers in BRIC countries, their income is still insufficient to support a decent standard of living.

Garment factory workers are only paid around half the living wage, and agricultural workers are paid even less. Taking into account financial demands on workers - income tax and social security contributions - in addition to wages, workers would need to be paid, on average, an additional 35 per cent to offset these factors.

Despite some improvements in workers’ income, and employment opportunities through globalisation over the last 20 years, they are still not paid living wages, so the supply chain cannot be described as fair. There can be potential impacts on companies and consumers if BRIC workers are paid a living wage. For example, a company may choose to absorb the additional cost or pass the cost on to consumers. Faced with a higher priced product, consumers might choose to buy less, which could in turn have a positive impact on the environment (by reducing carbon emissions) but possibly a negative social impact (by reducing employment).