Current approaches have been insufficient to produce the level of impact necessary to make a dent in the wage problem. It is just too big to handle through piecemeal attempts at enticing brands to force their factories to pay more and then somehow enforcing compliance. There are just too many brands, too many factories, too many intermediaries, too many governments involved. When brands producing and marketing exclusively in developing countries are taken into account, the dimensions become simply mind-boggling.
Even though the problem stems from the efficient functioning of labor markets and a practically infinite global supply of unskilled labor, wage levels are not hitting the “Living Wage” threshold and in most cases not even matching the minimum wage. Consumers in affluent countries are rightly concerned about this situation and want to do something about it. But it is really difficult or practically impossible to artificially manipulate wage rates in so many countries. And brands and intermediaries have virtual flexibility to decamp from one country to the next on their profit-fueled quest to vanquish costs. It’s time to give something else a try.
Technology now opens the way for another approach: the direct income transfer or gratuities. Gratuities put the consumer in direct control of a supplement to the workers’ livelihoods. Payment is optional. And now with proliferating digital wallets and mobile payments technologies, garment workers are increasingly easy to reach with additional resource transfers. This ensures complete traceability and minimizes risk of misuse of gratuity funds. It also guarantees that the workers who actually made a given production order will be the ones to receive the tips generated by that batch of apparel, regardless of whether they continue to be employed at that plant when the gratuity is finally paid out.
Put simply, the time has arrived to give gratuities a try. Technology makes it perfectly feasible. Consumers are ready to help. tip4good puts that power directly in their hands. Nothing else does. It’s time to tip4good.
tip4good is a startup in disruptive innovation blending 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.