Working conditions in the fashion industry (which eyewear producing companies are a part of) are sometimes not totally comfortable for the workers that work for them. Working conditions refer to the comforts, rights, and provisions made available to workers during working hours.
A large percentage of fashion factory workers especially in developing countries, Asia inclusive, work under poor and unfavorable conditions but cannot quit seeing as they have no other source of income. Many brands actually adopt this method because it increases their profit margins compared to when favorable conditions are put in place. There are quite a number of things that make working conditions in fashion and eyewear production below par and we will be taking a look at a few of them.
Hazardous health and safety conditions
It has been discovered that factory workers in the fashion industry have been forced to work under unsafe and dangerous conditions. They work in buildings with little or no ventilation and no preparation whatsoever for fire outbreaks which unfortunately occurs sometimes in the factories.
Workers have also been made to work in dilapidated buildings with cracks in them, a telltale sign of imminent collapse. One example is the collapse of a factory building (Rana Plaza) in the year 2013. The building was located in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the collapse killed 1134 workers. This tragedy could have been prevented if only the building had been renovated and kept in good condition. Due to the poor ventilation, the workers inhale diverse toxic substances as well as fiber dust.
These toxic substances are most of the time a result of the materials used in production. Some of these materials are plastics such as zylonite and cellulose acetate while others are metals like nickel, beryllium, titanium, gold, silver, etc used in eyewear production which can cause severe health defects when workers are exposed to them for a long period of time.
Disease outbreaks are also quite common. The provision of protective gear and wears is mostly overlooked. Despite the despicable and unacceptable working conditions and environment, sometimes the workers don't get paid if they are not able to complete their working hours.
In addition to the poor environment, workers are also paid poorly. They are most often paid about a fifth of what a standard family needs to survive on a daily basis and most often than not their employers think that they are doing them a favor as the low wage is better than no job. As much as this might be right to an extent, they are also exploiting the helpless conditions of their workers. It's popularly known that factory workers have unions that look out for them and have their best interests at heart especially in developed countries but most of these workers from the developing countries are prevented from having unions as their employers consider them a threat thereby leaving these workers without a voice to speak on their behalf.
Extensive and excessive working hours
Despite the fact that these workers are paid poorly, they still need to work for very long hours every. Some work for as long as 16 hours. Apart from these long working hours, they also sometimes need to work extra hours which the workers actually vie for seeing as they need the extra pay as their wages are too low to support their families. Although it is saddening that they do not get paid for those extra hours at times. This means that they have to work for very long hours with minimal pay.
There have been incidences of people being forced to work against their will in the fashion industry not minding the fact that they have other jobs and commitments to attend to. A perfect example of this is the cotton harvesting that takes place in Uzbekistan during the autumn season of the year. A lot of people and children are pulled out of their jobs and studies for the harvesting.
It's a common practice for minors to be used in the fashion industry which is totally illegal and wrong from all sides and perspectives. This is done because the fashion industry requires low skilled labor and it's a popular belief that the children are well fitted for that kind of job and you don't have to pay them the standard wage.
A frightening number of 168 million children are forced to work. This needs to be discouraged because the risk of health problems is higher when they are exposed to toxic substances.
The story is quite different for countries that employ the use of fair trade. Fairtrade is a structure that is built to help producers in developing countries accomplish lasting and honest trade relationships. Fairtrade is very much involved in helping producers from developing countries trade their products internationally at very fair prices which in the long-run impacts the economy and standard of living of the countries. When the standard of living in a country improves, the working conditions of the fashion industry will also do the same.
At BEINGBAR, we make sure that production or any other aspect of making, distributing and selling our products is done with respect for every human being involved. We strongly believe that the fashion industry is general is making good steps in improving their ways, but not enough!
We are committed to do things better.
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