Should one boycott big brands for failing to give fair wages to factory workers in the developing world?


[A virtual mulaqat of the female students and new-converts of the Netherlands with Huzooraa was held on 23 August 2020. ] During the… mulaqat…, a student said, “These days, the news has spread on social media that big clothing brands are not paying their poor labourers in places like Bangladesh and Pakistan their due wages due to the coronavirus. Most people say that we should boycott such brands. What is Huzoor’s guidance on this?” 

Huzooraa replied: 

“The fact is that the big [foreign] companies do pay their workers. However, they do not approach their labourers or workers directly for this. There are people in such [developing] countries who make contracts with them and then outsource the work. So, the big companies give them contracts and then they hire local labourers to carry out the work. 

“If they do not pay fair wages to their workers, then they are the ones who are exploiting them. The fault lies with their own countrymen, not so much with the [foreign] companies. It has generally been observed that these companies do pay their workers with the rare exception of some who may not do so. These big businesses are only able to operate because they do fair business and they pay the agreed wages in an honest manner.

“It is a separate issue that the wages they pay are little. It is also a separate issue that they outsource the work to countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, or any other third world countries for that matter, for the sole purpose that they will be able to get more work done for less pay. 

“However, whatever wages are agreed upon, they do pay them. The sub-contractors who delegate the contract over to others who then get work done from other labourers, are the ones who are actually cheating the workers. 

“So, what benefit would there be of boycotting such businesses? The labourers will lose whatever little incoming they are getting. Whether it is Bangladesh or any other country where such malpractices are going on, they all have their respective justice systems or [labour] laws. They should ensure that their labourers are looked after well and that the contractors are giving the workers what is rightfully due to them.”

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