The cross-border wage benchmark is based on the costs of living in 15 European garment production countries

The cross-border wage benchmark is based on the costs of living in 15 European garment production countries

Labour rights group Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has developed a living wage benchmark for Central, East and Southeast Europe in a bid to achieve higher wages for workers in the region.

The Europe Floor Wage is based on the costs of living in 15 European garment production countries, including seven EU member states. The methodology has been developed through six years of research.

Various experts were consulted during its development, including the Asia Floor Wage Alliance.

The Europe Floor Wage benchmark is designed to be a concrete tool to show brands and governments what wage is needed to live on and it can be used by unions and labour NGOs to strengthen their bargaining power, CCC says.

"With the Europe Floor Wage our goal is to put a floor on the 'race to the bottom' between and within European garment-producing countries," says Clean Clothes Campaign.

"This does not mean that the Europe Floor Wage is the only possible estimate for a living wage. On the contrary: cross-border and national living wage benchmarks complement each other. This benchmark is an estimate which presents a base for negotiations and can be tailored by trade unions and labour NGOs in the work to achieve higher wages for workers in Central, East and Southeast Europe."

According to CCC, more than 2.3m workers – predominantly women – work in the garment and shoe industry in Central, East and Southeast Europe. The statutory minimum net wages in these countries are below the statistical poverty lines defined by the EU and do not prevent workers from falling into poverty, the group says.

"If brands are serious about paying living wages to the workers in their supply chain in Central, East and Southeast Europe they should use this tool. There is no excuse," says Mario Ivekovic, president of Novi Sindikat (New Union), Croatia.

CCC is urging fashion brands and retailers to set "public, concrete, measurable" steps for their entire supply chain, in order to ensure garment workers are paid a living wage within a reasonable timeframe.

At the governmental level, it calls on the EU and national governments in consumer and producing countries in Europe to protect workers' human right to a living wage and implement legal minimum wages that fight poverty.