|From the May 1st, 2011 Maquila Solidarity Network wire:|
The problem of poverty wages is particularly acute for women workers. According to the Committee for Asian Women (CAW), a member of the AFW Alliance, "Women workers in the garment industry make up almost 80 percent of the export manufacturing workforce in the developing world...A strategy like Asia Floor Wage will be a solution in attenuating women's unequal bargaining power, gender wage gaps and in improving their well being."
This May 1, International Worker’s Day, the AFW Alliance is releasing new minimum wage demands for 2011 in the national currencies of major garment producing countries in Asia. The AFW Alliance is urging brand-name companies who source from Asia to open a dialogue with labour rights organisations in Asian countries to address poverty wages.
The report surveyed conditions in 83 factories in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia which together employ over 100,000 workers. Researchers found scores of workers’ rights abuses, including rampant and sometimes illegal use of short-term contracts which rob workers of job security and often deny them their legal benefits.
Women, who represent approximately three quarters of the workforce studied, were more likely to be employed on short term and temporary contracts, were subjected to sexual harassment and abuse, and often were not paid proper maternity benefits. Four of the 17 factories studied in Sri Lanka were found to have forced prospective female employees to take pregnancy tests before hiring.