The Asia Floor Wage Alliance is calling for a regional living wage for garment workers across Asia

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance is calling for a regional living wage for garment workers across Asia

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance has used the International Labour Conference in Geneva to renew its call for a regional living wage for garment workers across Asia. 

In a new documentary that goes behind the scenes at garment factories across Asia, 'Living Wage Now!' emphasises the need for an Asia Floor Wage that the organisation says will cover a family's basic expenses. The calculated wage would be adjusted based on local purchasing power and "help end the race to the bottom in global garment supply chains".

The film features workers in Cambodia, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia speaking about their lives and "daily struggles" in the face of "inadequate pay, excessive overtime, unsafe working conditions and widespread sexual harassment" of female workers. The film includes footage shot inside Asian garment factories that supply leading clothing brands and retailers.

"Do you think that workers who are producing high-level fashion for the global market should be living like rats? We don't think so," Anannya Bhattacharjee of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, says in the documentary. "We think that workers should be having a wholesome life, a dignified life for themselves and their families. And this is what Asia Floor Wage is about."

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance and its partners have been taking part in the International Labour Conference, which finishes today (10 June), to push the International Labour Organization (ILO) to enact legally-binding standards for global supply chains. The groups recently released a series of reports on alleged abuses in the garment supply chains of Wal-Mart, Gap and H&M.

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The IndustriAll global union has also attended the conference, where general secretary Jyrki Raina told attendees that nothing less than a fundamental change to the way production is organised in garment supply chains will provide relief to workers from "poverty wages and crippling working hours."

He highlighted the work the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety has achieved and said the challenge now will be to further develop this model to address other systemic supply chain rights violations.

The union, along with around 14 garment companies, last year joined forces to apply such an approach to living wages in the garment industry in a process known as ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation). The initiative aims to find a way of linking the supply chain responsibilities of buyers to the collective bargaining process between local unions and employers.

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"ACT is the best chance we have to improve garment workers' wages in a way that is scalable, sustainable and enforceable," Raina told attendees. 

He said IndustriAll "goes beyond naming and shaming multinational companies by entering into direct relationships with them to regulate their supply chains in the interests of workers. We need the assistance and cooperation of the ILO to support these efforts and to establish binding rules for supply chains that put a stop to the global race to the bottom on wages and working conditions."

Click here to view the trailer and here to view the full documentary.