When I unconsciously browse my Instagram feeds, I keep on finding posts and promoting stories #PayUp campaign, which brands challenge fashion brands to compensate their own workers (which should not be considered stupid?). My curiosity is annoyed with every post that I see, especially when my friends who rarely use social media start posting about it. You know this is serious when your inactive friend comes out of hiding to show their support. After digging a little, I found I shared a personal relationship with the struggle, which advocates Bangladeshi workers. Being a Bangladeshi myself, I knew I had to learn more.

While the pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another, garment worker based in Bangladesh has been destroyed. Because of the crisis, the retail industry must close its doors and hit pause on sales, spurring companies to implement sudden cost-cutting measures. This pressure resulted in large brands canceling new garment orders and refusing to pay for orders that were in progress.

I will not lie: the data is disappointing and the situation is severe. The Global Center for Workers’ Rights has reported that in March 2020, 72.1 percent of clients not paying for raw materials already purchased by the supplier, and 91.3 percent of customers do not pay the supplier’s production costs. The report also states that the company has hold a total of $ 3 billion valuables. Imagine if you were hired to get work done, you did it – and people who owe money you don’t pay.

Bangladesh garment workers falling victim to this injustice is not surprising because Bangladesh is one of the world’s major garment exporters, second only to China. In fact, if you take a closer look at your wardrobe, you might find that many of your affordable items come with the label ‘Made in Bangladesh’.

Close Miller / STYLECASTER.

This is where we as buyers come: When the allegations against a long list of companies that deny their orders are revealed, social media users have gained traction call them using the ‘PayUp’ hashtag. # PayUp is not new, it’s actually a movement that first appeared in 2013 after the Rana Plaza tragedy which left 1,132 people dead and 2,500 injured due to poor working conditions in garment factories. The movement called for compensation of affected workers, and a safer work environment. Now, the non-profit organization, Remake, has been return this hashtag, this time to hold the brand accountable for not paying its debt. Remake too launch the petition urging people to show their anger through signatures.

Posts labeled #PayUp educate the public about the exploitation of workers in developing and underdeveloped countries. The salary of the garment worker is very important; they work long hours in less-than-ideal conditions and still only generate a monthly salary of $ 96 USD (yes, you read that number correctly). Of the factories surveyed, 58 percent said they had to close most, if not all, of their operations. Now that I’ve bombarded you with all the facts and statistics, allow me to tell you why you should care. If the company doesn’t pay, around 4 million workers—most of them women– left without a source of income, potentially resulting in extreme hunger and poverty.

Fortunately, the power of social media can exceed expectations. If you do not believe social media activism before, think again. Because thousands of posts flooded Instagram and Twitter demanding companies to pay garment workers, many companies such as Nike, Zara, Levi’s and Target, have agreed to pay. #PayUp has now received more than 245,000 signatures on their petitions and obtained 19 companies promised payment. The movement has also captured around $ 1 billion for suppliers in Bangladesh and $ 22 billion globally.

While this victory must be celebrated, the battle is far from over. A long list of companies that have not agreed to pay still exists. There are many ways in which we can help. First and foremost, remember that you have the power as a consumer. Choose with your dollars and boycott brands that do not provide fair compensation to their workers. Finding and signing the required petition only takes a few seconds and yes, that simple act makes an impact. If you have the ability to do it, consider donate to the organization as Women’s and Girls Solidarity Fund, which supports the workers. If you cannot donate money, donate your time. Join thousands who use their social media accounts to demand payment using #PayUp. Finally, educate yourself. Research on this issue from a reliable source and keep learning and struggling.

It is our responsibility as consumers and humans to ensure the brand is held accountable for their unethical business practices. As fashion lovers who wear the clothes they make, it is our moral obligation to fight for the sake of garment workers who do not have a voice to fight for themselves. We cannot allow companies to use this tragic time as an excuse not to pay their workers. # PayUp is more than just hashtag, it’s a call for help from garment workers in Bangladesh – and it’s up to us to answer.



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