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WRC Report Examining Ethiopia’s Growing Garment Industry

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Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to share a new report, detailing the results of the WRC’s investigation of the labor rights environment in Ethiopia’s emerging textile and apparel export sector. Given Ethiopia’s rapid growth as an apparel exporter, it is important that WRC affiliate universities and colleges have accurate information concerning the country’s labor rights environment and the prospects for code of conduct compliance. While no collegiate production has yet been disclosed in Ethiopia, university licensees are likely to follow the lead of other international firms in moving into the mushrooming number of new manufacturing zones in the country.

The WRC’s investigation found wages in Ethiopia’s garment industry that are the lowest apparel wages in the world. We also documented grim working conditions that bear little resemblance to the standards the relevant brands claim to be upholding in their supply chains. The research included in-depth interviews with garment workers at four export factories producing for leading brands, including PVH (owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) and H&M.

Workers’ paystubs revealed that factories producing for these and other international brands are paying wages as low as 12 cents an hour, with an average of 18 cents an hour. In addition to these extraordinarily low wages, workers reported facing numerous and severe abuses, including draconian wage deductions; degrading verbal abuse from supervisors; pregnancy discrimination; and forced and unpaid overtime, among other rights violations.

As always, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Scott Nova
Executive Director
Worker Rights Consortium
nova@workersrights.org