Oxfam\’s rightly proud of Wastesaver. Innovative, even at its 1974 inception, the facility is still unmatched by any other major UK-based charity for size and ambition. The warehouse is a maze of conveyor belts that wind across and around several levels. It\’s \”festive Friday\” when I visit on the last Friday before Christmas and many of the 50 workers are wearing Santa hats. Most aren\’t volunteers – Oxfam feels their work is too specialised – and are paid about £12,800, the living wage locally. (Why aren\’t they paid more? \”It\’s a reflection of the other local manufacturing companies,\” says Matt George, Oxfam\’s head of logistics. \”We need to remain competitive.\”)
The wages on offer to workers are not determined by the productivity of those workers.
But by the alternatives that those workers have.
Oxfam might do well to remember that next time they complain about sweatshops abroad. The wages in them are not determined by how much those sweatshop worlers make for their pig capitalist exploiters. They\’re determined by the wages those sweatswhop workers could make if they weren\’t being exploited by pig capitalists.
You know, they should measure others by what they themselves do?