H&M pledges to pay a living wage
The world’s second-largest clothing retailer by sales, H&M, has pledged to pay a living wage to 850,000 textile workers after expressing frustration over a lack of action by governments to address working conditions in Asian factories. H&M has stated that it "would support factory owners at two factories in Bangladesh and one in Cambodia to adopt a fair living wage in 2014." It would then expand the programme to cover the 750 factories that supply its clothes by 2018.
Khieu Savuth, chief of Cambodia's Ministry of Labor’s labour conflict commission responded to H&M's pledge: “Even if we tell the garment factories to raise the wage, if the buyers don’t raise the price, how can the factory pay for it?”
H&M said that they were: "Willing to pay more so that their suppliers could pay higher wages.” The company stated that it would use the Fair Wage Method to identify workers' basic needs to agree a wage that would then be reviewed regularly, with better dialogue between workers and employers.
Campaigns co-ordinator at Labour Behind the Label, Anna McMullen, commented: “H&M's announcement is encouraging because it means the company will have to increase workers' pay.” However, she stated that H&M needed to be more specific about its aims: “It's great for companies to make statements like this but it remains to be seen what it's really going to achieve unless it makes a commitment to what a living wage really is."
Anna McMullen called for H&M to put a figure on a living wage, to ring-fence the costs for payment to factory owners and to follow up on to its pledge to support negotiations between workers and managers.
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