In recent years Ethiopia has opened its doors for international companies to invest in the country in different sectors. One of the main investors is clothing companies. Drawn by the newly built industrial parks, manufacturers for some of the world’s best-known brands — among them H&M, Gap, and PVH — employ tens of thousands of Ethiopian workers. But according to a recent report by the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, these Ethiopians workers are on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide.
There have been complaints from workers about wages and working conditions at the park. It is to remember that just last month thousands of workers in Hawassa industrial park stopped their work due to lack of response to their problems such as low salary. According to the authors of the report, Paul M. Barrett and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, the government’s eagerness to attract foreign investment led it to promote the lowest base wage in any garment-producing country — now set at the equivalent of $26 a month. In comparison, Chinese garment workers earn $340 a month and those in Kenya earn monthly pay of $207. In comparison, Chinese garment workers earn $340 a month and those in Kenya earn monthly pay of $207.
The new report is based on a visit to the flagship Hawassa Industrial Park that opened in June 2017 in southern Ethiopia and currently employs 25,000 people. Hawassa Industrial Park, Ethiopia’s first industrial park which opened in 2015 employees thousands of Ethiopians. IPDC’s flagship project, Hawassa Industrial Park, is located 275 km from Addis and has more than 15 global leading apparel and textile companies from USA, China, India, Sri Lanka, and 6 other local companies operating in it. Fashion giant PVH, which owns Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein some of the companies operating in the park.