Here's why Eco Loco does the research for you and why our Clothing for Her section contains only eco-friendly AND ethical clothing!
We know you've heard of them! We know that most of us are familiar with the working conditions of textile workers in many countries. We're a little dismayed that the general public continues to endorse certain companies that are already well identified. That's why we're taking another look at the issue, and bringing you the broad outlines of what's involved in terms of working conditions, which are so closely linked to quality of life.
Let's talk about Canadian working conditions!
Of course, Canada will never be perfect in everyone's eyes. It's a country with a number of major challenges, but also some undeniable advantages. We live in an industrialized country with a high quality of life. This is not true for everyone, but it is generally true. One of the advantages of this quality of life lies in the legislation governing working conditions and the environment. Here, our workers are protected in all sorts of ways.
Working conditions legislation protects workers not only in terms of the minimum wage, but also in terms of the number of hours worked, sick leave, parental leave, health and safety at work, termination conditions, vacations... Added to this is the right to unite and voice our opinions through unions. They also negotiate better working conditions than the law requires. And then there's the Environmental Protection Act and Health Canada's ban on certain toxic substances in the workplace and elsewhere. You're going to say that we could do better, and you're quite right to think so! But...
What about the countries where most of our clothes are made?
In 2015, it was estimated that China topped the list as a garment exporter, with over CAD 160 billion worth of exports in this industry. This represents almost 40% of global production. It is followed at a distance by the European Union, India, the United States, Pakistan and several other smaller countries.
While it seems true that the Chinese textile industry has undergone a transformation over the past ten years, with new laws, improved working conditions for workers and some companies succeeding in producing ethical clothing (Patagonia), the majority of garments produced there involve rather difficult working conditions. In an effort to establish more commendable working conditions, the minimum wage for employees in the industry has risen considerably in recent years. Today, employees earn an average of $240/week, while the minimum living wage is estimated at $560/week. This is still clearly insufficient.
Although the Chinese government has put in place several laws to protect workers, these are not really enforced, and little control is exercised in this respect. Forced labor (up to 80 hours a week) still exists today, and a growing shortage of unskilled workers is still encouraging child labor in 2018. The International Federation for Human Rights still describes several of China's practices.
What's the impact of improvements in China?
The combination of improved working conditions in the textile industry and the shortage of low-skilled labor in China has led some brands to relocate on a massive scale, looking for alternatives that will enable them to maintain a high level of profitability. They have turned to countries where labor is even cheaper. While the average daily wage in China is around $27/day, this massive relocation has taken place to Bangladesh, Vietnam ($6.70/day), Indonesia ($8.60/day), Myanmar... These countries not only legislate even lower minimum wages, but even more deplorable working conditions. A highly eloquent report on working conditions in these countries has been produced, and is worth seeing again and again:
We're sure you already knew most of the information contained in this blog post! However, "Fast Fashion" is in full swing in today's society. Buying ecological, Canadian and ethical clothing is still marginal today. We invite you to take into account the different aspects mentioned in order to use your power as a consumer and make a difference. At the end of the day, whatever you may think, we hold the power over our consumption, and it's our choices that influence companies to take responsibility. Think about it! Eco Loco offers you the chance to buy ethical and ecological clothing.