I wake at 5:55 to the sounds of roosters crowing and people beginning their days below my bedroom window. Today is exciting as Som is coming with me to visit some local manufactures to discuss having my clothing produced here, but right now I am still sleepy and decide to nap a little longer before getting up. I get up at 7:30, take a quick shower and head upstairs for breakfast. Another thing I always found so pleasant and amusing here. Amusing for the fact that no matter how many times I order my breakfast without toast, it will always comes with toast. This is not an uncommon thing in Nepal, the communication barrier can often prevent the full meaning to be conveyed; you just have to roll with it and have the occasional giggle.
After breakfast I head out to the streets and have a wonder around before going to meet Som. After a number of phone conversations that seem to go nowhere we finally make contact with the two shops I want to visit. We head out to check out the first shop. On the way Som continues to explain that there really is no “fair trade” in Nepal. It is simply a facade, workers are still being paid peanuts while the boss get rich, but they use “fair trade” in their business names.
We get to the first shop and look around, there is a lot of very nice products here all sporting a label with fair trade printed on it. I ask the people in the shop where everything is made, the response is “in our factory”, I ask what fair trade means and if we can see the factory, to both the response is “you have to speak to the boss”. The people who own the shop don’t even come from Nepal — they are from India and it’s easy to tell that a vast majority of the profit is kept by the boss man.
After this we head back to the hotel for a quick pit stop and a wait for the man from the other shop, the shop I did business with last time, to come and collect us. When he arrives we head to the shop. He has moved since I was here last and his new shop is just down the road from the hotel and conveniently close to my crystal man’s shop. After a quick look around we decide to head to the factory to check out the conditions and speak to the boss. We are there for perhaps one hour, and are shown the cutting room, sewing rooms, rooms filled with fabric and piles and piles of packaged clothing. They tell us of order numbers such as 10,000 and 100,000 all headed to various places in Europe. All I can think is my order numbers are going to seem tiny in comparison.
I talk to the boss about what fair trade means to him, he tells me it means that no children work in the factory, and he tells me something about taxes that I don’t really understand. The factory and shop are registered, and he tells me that the workers earn money per piece of clothing produced. I ask him how much per item made, “it changes” he says, apparently it depends on how difficult the piece is and how many they have to make. “110 rupees per piece” he says showing me a semi complex item — that’s about $1.10 Australian… When we leave I ask a worker how much he earns. Som steps in and speaks in Nepalese with the man. After we leave Som tells me that the mans said 10 rupees per piece for what he was currently making and he makes about 80 pieces a day. That’s 10 cents australian per piece, which means he earns $8 a day. Definitely not a fair trade. It has been an interesting and informative day, and it has really opened my eyes to what is in the “fair trade” market.
Love, Light and Sparkly things
© Take on Nepal 2019