In Bangladesh, the minimum wage is less than US$70 a month

In Bangladesh, the minimum wage is less than US$70 a month

Swedish fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz has refuted claims it may raise prices as part of plans to improve pay rates for textile workers in countries such as Bangladesh.

At a meeting with pressure groups in Stockholm yesterday (11 December), the retailer discussed plans unveiled late last month to pay a fair living wage to some 850,000 workers in its clothing supply chain by 2018.

In Bangladesh, a country that has seen much tragedy owing to poor working conditions in textile factories, the minimum wage is less than US$70 a month.

Speaking at the meeting, H&M's head of sustainability, Helena Helmersson, told reporters that higher prices "might be a possibility", but that customers wouldn't see a hike in the near future.

A spokesperson for H&M, however, said it was unlikely the strategy would result in a price increase for customers.

"It is an investment in our customer offering and will benefit H&M long term. It is important to remember that wages are only one of several factors that influence the sourcing costs and the prices in our stores.

"We also believe that this will lead to more stable production markets, with better efficiency and productivity. Long term this will be profitable for both us and our suppliers."

H&M has said its Fair Living Wage plan "takes the wage issue to the next level." The retailer has been working on its "new vision" for the past year, and says it will tackle the issue both in the short and long term.

H&M says it is willing to pay more for its garments so that suppliers can pay higher wages.

"It has always been our vision that all textile workers should be able to live on their wage. We believe that the wage development in production countries, which is often driven by governments, is taking too long," the company said.

"H&M wants to take further action and encourage the whole industry to follow. With size comes responsibility and we have the ability to contribute to a positive change."