After years toiling at factories in the free trade zones of the Dominican Republic, Santa Castillo knows how difficult it can be to survive on the minimum wage. “A lot of times there was only enough for my kids, and I’d go to bed hungry,” she says. Now the factory where Ms Castillo works has committed to pay three and a half times the minimum wage.
The increased wages at the factory aim to ensure that workers can provide for their families and escape a cycle of poverty and debt. Ms Costillo calls her first living wage pay check a “godsend”.
The factory supplies for Knights Apparel, a leading producer of licensed sports apparel for major retailers in the US. Knights’ decision to support the project raises the bar for workers’ rights across the sportswear sector. While leading sportswear companies such a Nike have paid lip service to the concept of a living wage for several years, they are yet to actually implement a living wage through any of their suppliers.
[singlepic id=138 w=320 h=240 float=right]Meanwhile CEO of Knights, Joseph Bozich, is optimistic about the future of the Knights living wage initiative: “We’re hoping to prove that doing good can be good business, that they’re not mutually exclusive.”
Note: The Alta Gracia Project film is produced by The Workers’ Rights Consortium and features interviews with individual workers. As such, the views expressed in this film are individual views and do not necessarily represent the view or position of Oxfam Australia. Oxfam Australia takes no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.