Poverty pay is a systemic issue.

Poverty pay is a systemic issue.

As we know the fashion industry generates trillions of dollars of revenues yearly. Despite this, the industry itself fails to secure its workers a fair salary with living wages.

Industry activists, named Fashion Revolution, have annually been publishing the “Fashion Transparency Index”, which analyses and ranks 250 of the world’s biggest fashion brands and retailers based on their public disclosure of human rights and environmental impacts.

According to their latest article, in 2023 only 1% of major brands disclose the number of workers in their supply chain that are paid a living wage.

Only three companies – Gucci, OVS and Tom Tailor – have opened up about the number of workers in their supply chain receiving a living wage and it is generally defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker and their family to meet basic needs.

In 2020-2021, according to Statista, this monthly basic wage of the garment workers globally was $200.

Fashion Revolution’s report says workers’ ability to join together to negotiate with their employers remains the main channel available to achieving better wages and working conditions, something that different Asian workers’ unions have already tried to do.

However high volumes of fashion carry on being sourced from countries including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which continue with the most stringent restrictions on workers who are increasingly being targeted and dismissed.

According to Fashion Revolution, another way to overcome these problems is with more transparency and collaboration within the industries. In light of this, 19 brands have recently signed up to ACT on Living Wages, a new agreement between trade unions and brands to drive higher wages across the sector.

In spite of this, while 85% of major companies have policies supporting freedom of association, just 15% disclose the number of supplier factories with independent, democratically elected trade unions. And only 3 out of 250 brands struck collective bargaining agreements that gave workers wages higher than those required by local law.

Countries such as Germany, Japan and the U.S. have all produced new corporate guidance on human rights in the last few years, and several brands are backing a call from the Corporate Justice Coalition for a new Business, Human Rights and Environment Act.

It took a huge tragedy before the sector acted in Bangladesh, and while the country’s garment workers now enjoy safer working conditions, human rights violations go unreported and the fashion industry continues to generate vast profit.

It is clear that brands current efforts to reinforce living wages is insufficient at targeting this ssystemic injustice issue. Increased transparency is essential to address the current human rights issues within the industry.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/sustainability/failure-lift-exploitative-wages-tests-fashion-firms-commitment-human-rights-2023-08-03/#:~:text=Regulatory%20Oversight-,Failure%20to%20lift%20%27exploitative%27%20wages%20tests%20fashion,firms%27%20commitment%20to%20human%20rights

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