American artist and activist Kat Eng took a trip to Time Square’s H&M flagship NYC store last week. Wearing a blood stained shirt and surgical mask, she sat directly outside the store for 8 hours, stitching together 2 and 2 third dollar bills on a sewing machine. The reason for this, (she expresses on her website), is a reaction towards the recent ‘brutal military crackdown’ on garment workers protesting in Cambodia.
This January saw 500,000 workers take strike action against the Cambodian government, demanding a liveable working wage. Physical intervention from police resulted in 5 garment worker fatalities, while dozens were injured. 400 factories were forced to shut down. A similar story to the recent plight of underpaid,overworked garment workers in Bangladesh. The significane of the 2 and 2 third dollar bills is to represent the current wage Cambodian garment workers are given, as Eng sewed real bank notes together, attaching an H&M label to reflect a days earnings.
<p><span style=”color: #000000;”><iframe src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/-842r36h-jo” height=”315″ width=”560″ allowfullscreen=”” frameborder=”0″></iframe></span></p>
But are H&M (who are working closely with factories in Cambodia), and currently in talks about raising the price of their clothing the ones to blame? Or is it the Cambodian government and fast-paced consumerism? Either way, Eng sheds light on a serious topic that may help just one passerby think that much more about their next clothing purchases.