Report says Ethiopia's garment factory workers lowest paid among major garment-producing countries globally

In recent years, Ethiopia has launched a bold economic and social experiment by inviting the global garment industry to set up shop in the East African country. The New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights team researched the challenges and opportunities in the garment sector. Their report says that Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing countries worldwide. It recommends that the apparel industry ensure that Ethiopian factory employees are well-trained, motivated, and paid enough to afford basic necessities. [Refers to H&M, Hanes, and PVH]

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Article
13 May 2019

Ethiopia: Companies and government must invest in living wage to ensure garment industry benefits workers & local economy, says report author

Author: Paul Barrett, The Washington Post

"A new industry in Ethiopia is creating jobs. But at what cost?", 10 May 2019.

...with wages rising in Asia, companies such as Hanes and H&M have identified a new frontier for low-paid labor...Ethiopia...Entry-level garment workers in Ethiopia typically receive a base salary worth only $26 a month — the lowest, by far, in the worldwide clothing supply chain...Hawassa Industrial Park...is one of five huge publicly owned complexes built for the Ethiopian government by Chinese construction companies...the manufacturing center has already created tens of thousands of jobs...But meager pay levels have contributed to low productivity and high attrition rates. Workers...have trouble living on what they’re paid, leading many of them to quit and return home...There’s great potential in the social and economic experiment unfolding in East Africa, but it will be fulfilled only if workers are rewarded with higher wages and decent living conditions.

The creation of manufacturing hubs such as Hawassa has brought other problems, too. Some government-employed job recruiters sent to villages have exaggerated what workers can earn at the park, leading to disillusionment when reality hits...Cultural clashes between foreign middle managers and Ethiopian line workers are also common...Government officials told us they are considering a minimum wage that would lift the compensation floor for garment workers and other private-sector employees. In addition, the government is preparing a plan under which it would provide free land if foreign manufacturers finance affordable dormitories near the factories...On top of the other challenges, protests related to the country’s volatile ethnic-identity politics have shut down the Hawassa Park three times in the past year...companies will need to see beyond the short-term lure of the world’s lowest wages. Together with the government, they will have to invest time, talent and resources in addressing the ethnic tension in places such as Hawassa, establish a livable minimum wage that ensures decent living conditions for workers, provide more extensive training for workers and expand worker representation...

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Article
10 May 2019

Ethiopia's garment workers are world's lowest paid, says report

Author: CNBC

"Report: Ethiopia's garment workers are world's lowest paid"

Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide, a new report says. The report by the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights comes as Ethiopia, one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, pursues a bold economic experiment by inviting the global garment industry to set up shop in its mushrooming industrial parks. "The government's eagerness to attract foreign investment led it to promote the lowest base wage in any garment-producing country — now set at the equivalent of $26 a month," according to the authors of the report, Paul M. Barrett and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly. In comparison, Chinese garment workers earn $340 a month, those in Kenya earn $207 and those in Bangladesh earn $95...

According to the report, most young Ethiopian workers are hardly able to get by to the end of the month and are not able to support family members. "I'm left with nothing at the end of the month," one factory worker, Ayelech Geletu, 21, told The Associated Press last year. The minimum monthly living wage in Ethiopia is about $110), according to Ayele Gelan, a research economist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. "Given relatively little training, restive employees have protested by stopping work or quitting altogether. Productivity in the Hawassa factories typically is low, while worker disillusionment and attrition are high," the report says.

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Author: AFP et Le Monde (France)

« En Ethiopie, les petites mains de H&M ou Calvin Klein gagnent 23 euros par mois », 8 mai 2019

Les salariés des usines de vêtements d’Ethiopie, qui travaillent pour des marques comme Guess, H&M ou Calvin Klein, sont les moins bien payés au monde, avec seulement 26 dollars (23 euros) par mois, selon un rapport rendu public mardi 7 mai.

L’Ethiopie, qui ambitionne de devenir le principal centre manufacturier du continent, a séduit les investisseurs en mettant en avant la disposition des salariés à travailler pour moins du tiers du salaire des travailleurs du Bangladesh, affirme le rapport du Centre Stern pour les affaires et les droits de l’homme de l’université de New York...

...Dans leur empressement à créer une marque “made in Ethiopia”, le gouvernement, les marques mondiales et les fabricants étrangers n’ont pas prévu que le salaire de base était tout simplement trop faible pour que les travailleurs puissent en vivre. »

Selon le rapport, les salariés de la confection, parmi lesquels de nombreuses femmes, ont du mal à s’en sortir, sont très peu formés et des conflits culturels les opposent aux dirigeants des usines, originaires d’Asie...

...[L]es bas salaires ont entraîné une productivité médiocre, des grèves à répétition et un fort turn-over. Des usines ont remplacé l’intégralité de leurs salariés tous les douze mois en moyenne, indique le rapport...

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Report
10 May 2019

Report on challenges in Ethiopia's garment industry

Author: Paul M. Barrett and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights

"Made in Ethiopia: Challenges in the Garment Industry's New Frontier"

In recent years, Ethiopia has launched a bold economic and social experiment by inviting the global garment industry to set up shop in the East African country. The CBHR team researched the challenges and opportunities. One place for the apparel industry to start is ensuring that Ethiopian factory employees are well-trained, motivated, and paid enough to afford basic necessities.

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