Blog: Leonie BarrieMyanmar minimum wage causes consternation

Leonie Barrie | 7 July 2015

Anger and frustration is brewing in Myanmar over plans announced last week to set the country’s first minimum wage at MMK3,600 (US$3.22) per day. Garment manufacturers met to discuss possible shut-downs following the government’s proposals, claiming the increase will cripple the sector’s growth and force factories to close. They want to pay no more than MMK2,500 (US$2.21) per day.

A number of new initiatives have been unveiled by Marks & Spencer as it progresses its Plan A sustainability strategy, including a supply chain human rights policy. The UK retail group has also provided an update on a healthcare project for workers in Cambodia, and says cotton remains the biggest challenge when it comes to tracing its raw materials.

A chemical management programme developed by VF Corp to identify and eliminate potentially harmful chemicals from its supply chain has been rolled out to eight countries - with work now underway to extend the initiative industry-wide.

The apparel giant also revealed that jeans produced under its Lee ReThink sustainable denim programme in China take 1,100 less gallons of water to produce compared to a typical pair of Lee jeans.

Other evolutions when it comes to sustainability in the textile and apparel industry are covered in this month’s management briefing. Collaborative platforms, compliance in China, improvements at low-cost Asian suppliers, and efforts by Bangladesh to up the ante on sustainable production are all discussed.

China is to start to sell down its massive cotton stockpile from early July through August, in a move likely to shake up the market.

And retailer C&A is to highlight the improved and consistent fit of garments across its size range with special labels on its latest ladies’ wear and denim ranges.

The latest string of financial reports paints a very dull picture for the mid-market fashion industry in the US – with the all-American Gap brand exemplifying the challenges more than most. But can the Gap brand reclaim its iconic status?

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