The year-long Garment Worker Diaries project gives the most comprehensive picture yet of the living and working conditions faced by female garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India.
Over 12 months, researchers visited 540 workers at their homes to learn about what they earn and buy, how they spend their time each day and what their working conditions are like.
The reports highlight that the living and working conditions of garment workers vary greatly across countries:
- Bangladesh’s workers earned the least per hour of workers in the three countries—about half what the women in the other two countries earned. On average, they worked 60 hours a week and earned an hourly rate of 28 taka (the equivalent of 0.95 USD in purchasing power parity). They earned less than the minimum hourly wage 64 per cent of the time and there was significant evidence to suggest that the more they worked the less they earned. Outside of work, men controlled earnings and were spent on basics like food and rent and rarely improved a household’s quality of life.
- Cambodia’s workers sought overtime hours to boost their incomes, but in many cases were not paid a legal wage for these hours. On average, they worked 48 hours a week and earned an hourly rate of 3,500 riels (the equivalent of 2.53 USD in purchasing power parity). Despite earning the minimum wage and supplementing their income with overtime hours, most workers still faced financial strain, and at certain points throughout the year, this resulted in limited access to quality food and medical care.
- India’s workers – a sample of export-oriented factory employees in the southwest of Bangalore – typically earned the legal minimum wage or higher and paid into pension and state insurance programmes. On average, they worked 46 hours a week and earned an hourly rate of 39.68 INR (the equivalent to 2.27 USD in purchasing power parity). They were often exposed to verbal abuse by their supervisors and relied heavily on income from their husbands or other household earners to meet their financial obligations, but lived in comparative comfort to workers in Bangladesh or Cambodia.
You can find the full reports here.