UK: Retailers urged to take action to end sweatshops
Campaigners are using the start of London Fashion Week to step up calls for high street retailers to take more action to end poverty pay for overseas workers.
A new report released today (16 September) by Labour Behind the Label, compares and ranks efforts by retailers to end workers' poverty.
The group and the authors of the report 'Let's Clean Up Fashion' say wages across the board are too low to allow workers even basic living standards - the ability to feed, clothe and shelter a family.
The study also condemns 11 other companies for not making enough effort to work towards a decent wage: Arcadia, Asda/George, Aurora, Burberry, H&M, Levi Strauss, Matalan, New Look, Primark, Sainsbury and Tesco.
Authors were particularly critical of Gap, which received a top grade in the group's previous Let's Clean Up Fashion reports. They cite its recent decision to drop plans to work towards a living wage and to monitor payment only of a minimum wage, a figure which leaves workers struggling at the bottom of the poverty scale.
But the group says none of the 29 UK high street brands surveyed yet pays workers a living wage.
Research last December by Labour Behind the Label found Indian workers producing for Debenhams, Next and M&S were paid just GBP60 (US$94.8) a month - below half a living wage of GBP126 (US$199) needed to live a decent quality of life.
Authors also point to the trend for firms to take steps to increase wages, but to fail to ensure workers can join trade unions and fight to maintain and improve their pay - a vital step, if work is to be sustainable.
"Many companies fail to admit that their buying practices and the prices they pay to suppliers are to blame for the poverty facing those who make our clothes," said Sam Maher from Labour Behind the Label.
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