A sample wage ladder for a shirt factory in Turkey

A sample wage ladder for a shirt factory in Turkey

A new online tool has been launched to help brands, factories and labour groups move towards the provision of a living wage for garment workers in global supply chains.

The FWF Wage Ladder, developed by the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), enables firms to compare the wages paid at any factory against a range of wage benchmarks.

And its aim is to try to sidestep stalled discussions about what, exactly, constitutes a living wage - and instead provide a tangible way for garment brands and factories to improve workers' wages with immediate effect.

Local trade unions, NGOs, labour groups, business associations, and government agencies have been involved in its compilation by estimating a living wage for their country or region. International and national benchmarks, such as the Asia Floor Wage, the UN poverty line and wage statistics, have also been included.

The tool generates a visual layout that shows where a factory's wages fall short in comparison to these benchmarks. This provides a basis for negotiating improvements between factories and brands and, when available, worker representatives.

The FWF Wage Ladder was originally designed for use by FWF member companies in the garment industry. It currently contains benchmarks for 12 production countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. Future updates are also planned, which will expand the list of available countries.

In most low-cost production countries, wages are insufficient for workers to meet basic needs like food, shelter, and health care.

"The obvious answer to relieving the poverty of workers participating in garment supply chains is to find mechanisms that increase the wages of those at the bottom of the supply chain," says FWF director Erica van Doorn.

Click here to access the FWF Wage Ladder, although registration is required.