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. Drawn by the newly built industrial parks and a range of financial incentives, manufacturers for some of the world’s best-known brands — among them H&M, Gap, and PVH — employ tens of thousands of Ethiopian workers in a sector the government predicts will one day have billions of dollars in sales. The new report is based on a visit earlier this year to the flagship Hawassa Industrial Park that opened in June 2017 in southern Ethiopia and currently employs 25,000 people. 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.
SOURCES: THE WASHINGTON POST