ASIA: Retailers highlighted for failing supply chain workers
A report produced by The Clean Clothes Campaign, entitled: 'Tailored Wages', surveyed Europe's 50 leading fashion and sportswear brands to analyse what they are doing to pay a living wage.
Based on a multi-brand survey by Labour Behind the Label, the study revealed that while half of those surveyed include wording in their codes of conduct saying that wages should be enough to meet workers' basic needs; only four brands - Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Switcher and Tchibo - were able to demonstrate clear progress towards implementing this. Even these, the report noted, have a long way to go before a living wage is realised for the garment workers.
"Although a living wage is a human right, shockingly none of Europe's leading 40 companies are paying it," said Anna McMullen, lead author on the report. "The research shows that while brands are increasingly aware of the need for a living wage it is yet to translate into any meaningful action.
"Most commitments are confined to codes of conduct and the pages of CSR brochures, which is a major disappointment. Millions of women and men worldwide depend on the garment industry - it is vital that Brands push beyond simple paper commitments and take concrete steps towards paying workers a living wage."
The survey highlighted a small number of brands that are undertaking pioneering work, including Swiss t-shirt manufacturer and leisurewear brand Switcher, which has set up a fund to pay an additional 1% on top of the price paid to the factory, which will go directly to the workers. Spanish retail giant Inditex is also undertaking joint work with global union IndustriALL.
However McMullen adds: "Whilst this is all innovative work, it remains in the pilot stage and workers can wait no longer."
In key garment producing countries such as Cambodia, there are ongoing disputes over garment industry wages.
Cambodian garment and footwear workers currently receive US$100 per month. Workers however, have been seeking an immediate raise in their minimum wage to US$160 per month.
"The role of companies in ensuring a living wage is paid is vital as they have the ability to change prices and purchasing practices that would ensure wages allowed garment workers to live with dignity," Labour Behind the Label says.
Debenhams, Matalan and North Face did not return a request for comment at the time of going to press.
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