Sunday, 20 October 2013

How Much Did Your T Shirt Cost?


Aussies wear T-shirts.  We wear them at the beach, or around the house, or under a shirt when we go out. We like to have something funny written on the front, or an arty design. Or just plain white.

So we buy lots of them. And we like to pick up a bargain. 

So how much did your last T-shirt cost?

To save money, most of our clothes are made overseas, where labour is much cheaper than in Australia. That helps make them cheap.

But did you know that, over the past 8 years, more than 1,800 garment workers in Bangladesh have died in building collapses, in factory fires, or other "preventable circumstances"?

It turns out that shoddy practices and unsafe working conditions are another reason why our T-shirts are so cheap. We get cheap clothes and garment workers pay with their lives.

But there is an alternative.

There is now an international accord, "a multinational stakeholder agreement where companies commit to extensive and systematic assessment of worker safety and conditions within the Bangladesh garment industry".

Rather than boycott clothing made in Bangladesh, which will only increase poverty, this accord means companies will work together to support positive change.

Katies, Target and Cotton On have all signed the accord. K-Mart is offering compensation for families affected by the most recent fire.

Woolworths, which owns Big W, had deferred action to sign the accord, but in latest news, has finally signed up.

Change won't be instant, but if you think unsafe and unfair working conditions are too high a price to pay for cheap clothing, then keep your eyes open for more news on which clothing companies are supporting positive change.

The Justice and Mercy Team at our church will be doing more research to give you the best information we can. And if you would like to help with some internet research on this matter, please let us know.

Eric & Carolyn Hatfield from the Justice and Mercy Team at Menai Anglican Church

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly. Micah 6:8

Information from Canberra Times ( tshirt-20131014-2vikj.html) and Sydney Morning Herald ( accord-20131017-2vq3l.html). Photo: MorgueFile (

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