If I had a dollar for everyone who pointed me to John Oliver’s takedown of the global garment industry on Last Week Tonight, I would be able to buy-out the nearest H&M store of its cheap inventory.
I’m not complaining. I’m glad so many saw the piece and honored that they thought of me and my work.
But overall, I was disappointed with his argument. There wasn’t a single mention of the word “poverty” or of the lack of opportunities that exist in countries like Bangladesh.
Any story, segment, or piece on the global garment industry that doesn’t mention the word “poverty” is simply focusing on symptoms.
A factory accepting an underage worker is a symptom, but the fact underage worker has to have a job is the problem.
A factory collapsing is a symptom of an industry experiencing rapid unrestricted growth, but workers recognizing that the factory they work in and not having a voice to speak out is a problem.
John does make some really great points:
“Kathie Lee did not solve everything.”
Today, Kathie Lee, who became the face of sweatshops after it was discovered children were involved in producing her clothing line in the 90s, hosts the TODAY Show and marvels at the cheap fast fashions her guests feature. Yet the atrocities and labor wrongs of the industry have only grown in size and severity.
Regarding GAP John points out that: “A company trying as hard as it can has been not infrequently connected to labor violations in multiple countries over two decades.”
And his best point: “This is going to keep happening as long as we allow it.”
Because it has kept on happening and it will keep happening until we focus on the actual problems impacting the lives of garment workers.
I’d also like to see more focus on giving workers a voice like I mentioned in my last post.