A lot of well-meaning people and organizations are hard at work trying to come up with ways to improve the incomes of garment workers that produce our clothes. But we keep coming up short. We see that initiatives like lobbying brands to force suppliers to improve pay or encouraging more militancy from workers’ unions score some victories. Only to see that not enough progress is being made.
The reason why is fairly straightforward. The global garment industry operates as a free market. As such it is the market, not the brands nor the unions nor the factories, that sets wages. Artificial manipulations that attempt to alter this reality can be successful, but only for a limited time. We can’t expect brands that compete fiercely with one another—not to mention with counterfeiters—or employers that can afford to pay a pittance and still attract workers willing to work for that price to simply put aside their economic interests in order to charitably pay workers more. An arrangement like that is unsustainable when facing global open market competition (but is certainly possible to pull off in some niche segments).
The economics of fashion are sound, but its effects are not. By hook or by crook the workers truly are being paid what their (very poor) national markets will bear. If that were not the case they would not take those jobs. They and their countries are arguably better off having those jobs, as the alternative would most likely be having none at all. We should fight tooth-and-nail to improve minimum wages and achieve that cherished “Living Wage”. But in truth we are mired in simply trying to get governments to enforce their own minimum wage, however inadequate. Wages are so low because the countries are so poor. It really is that simple.
This doesn’t mean that we have to live with the status quo. But in order to change the situation we need to explore new alternatives that are not subject to the market. Garment workers are keenly interested in making more money but they are even more interested in having any kind of work to begin with.
There is an alternative: tip4good allows any altruistic generous customer to thank the workers who assembled the garment they have purchased by directly contributing gratuities. Even small gifts can make a big difference in the wellbeing of honest hardworking people being paid so little, not to mention their children.
Join us. Give humanity a chance to make a real difference in the lives of these deserving workers. Take a pass on the market. For better or worse it will continue doing its job. It’s time to try something new. tip4good is the way.
tip4good is a startup in disruptive innovation combining new mobile payments technology and generosity to permit consumers to thank the factory workers who made their garment by paying them a gratuity. Please help us continue to grow! Just join our leads list to support our pilot program: www.tip4good.org
Humanity deserves the opportunity to make this work.