Clean Clothes Campaign & Intl. Labor Rights Forum campaign urges H&M to meet its living wage commitment

On Labour Day 2018 Clean Clothes Campaign & Intl. Labor Rights Forum launched the campaign "Turn around, H&M!".  The campaign accuses H&M of failing to meet the commitment it made in 2013 to ensure workers in its supply chain are paid a living wage by 2018 with its “Roadmap towards a fair living wage”.

We invited H&M to respond in May 2018.  H&M sent us a letter they sent Clean Clothes Campaign in response to their letter to the H&M Board, CEO and Head of Sustainability re its living wage commitment.  In June 2018 Clean Clothes Campaign sent us a letter that they have sent in response to H&M's letter.

on 13 June H&M also sent us an additional statement.  All documents can be accessed below.

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Company response
13 June 2018

H&M final comment

Author: H&M

“We want to emphasise that while we agree that wages in many markets indeed need to be raised, it is not our role as a brand and buyer is to set the level of wages. Instead, as wages are an industry wide issue, they also need to be set on an industry wide level, preferrably negotiated between the parties on the labor market. This understanding of how to drive improvements on wages is shared by the global trade unions and the International Labour Organisation, whom we consulted extensively when we set our Fair Living Wage Roadmap.

According to the ILO and the global trade union IndustriALL there is no universal benchmark on how to calculate a living wage. Instead they stress the importance of promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining, as necessary for workers and employers to negotiate wages and working conditions. We share this view and this is why our efforts are focused on supporting the establishment of transparent and fair wage management systems, workplace dialogue and improved industrial relations.”

NGO rejoinder
5 June 2018

Clean Clothes Campaign response to H&M letter (2 May 2018)

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

Five years later it appears that H&M took a lot of credit for its original commitment but has so far failed to deliver in the form of an actual payment of living wages to the workers in its supply chain. That is the core reason for the launch of the “Turn Around, H&M!” campaign, which is gaining momentum across Europe and more broadly. The letter that we sent in March included five clear demands, and we are disappointed that your reply made no effort on several points...

Download the full document here

Company response
2 May 2018

H&M response to Clean Clothes Campaign letter (18 Mar 2018)

Author: H&M

Back in 2013, when our Fair Living Wage strategy was launched, our vision clearly stated: “Even though our strategy initially focuses on the suppliers we work with, we want to see change throughout the industry; all workers at textile factories, regardless of who is the buyer, should earn a fair living wage”. In this we share the same ambition. However, as we are sure you are also aware from our previous conversations, our understanding of the best approach by which to achieve a fair living wage is somewhat different. We developed our strategy in consultation with key stakeholders such as the ILO and the global trade union organisation IndustriALL, and in response to your 2nd and 3rd point the conclusion of these consultations - that informed our strategy - was that as living wage is an industrywide issue joint solution negotiated by the actors in the industry in a country have the greatest potential to stand the test of time and to be enforced in practice than any top down or single brand solution from afar. H&M group has a clear role to play to facilitate the payment of living wages, but we have always been clear that there are many factors beyond our control involved and that we depend on shared responsibility for the vision to be achieved. This said, we have a unique position and a responsibility through our size and scale to influence change on factory, industry and country level. Our fair living wage strategy was developed with this in mind and focus on different areas and levels... 

Download the full document here

1 May 2018

Campaign launch: Turn around, H&M!

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign and International Labor Rights Forum

Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) are placing the spotlight on H&M. We are asking the brand to turn around and stop heading in the direction of letting down 850,000 workers who are waiting to start receiving living wages – as H&M vowed they would by this year. In its 2013 “Roadmap towards a fair living wage” H&M announced: “H&M's strategic suppliers should have pay structures in place to pay a fair living wage by 2018. By then, this will reach around 850,000 textile workers.”...More than four years after H&M published the roadmap, hundreds of thousands of workers producing H&M’s garments are still not receiving living wages...It is also obvious to anyone who has followed this as closely as we have that H&M is now trying to cover up the original commitment altogether,” says Ineke Zeldenrust of Clean Clothes Campaign. Indeed, instead of fulfilling the commitment, H&M has watered it down yet further. According to the brand’s latest sustainability report, the aim is now for supplier factories to use the Fair Wage Method. Whether or not this actually leads to the workers being paid a living wage by 2018 is not addressed at all in the report. Furthermore, H&M has seemingly purged its website of the documents that specified its original commitment back in 2013.

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19 March 2018

Public letter: H&M must stick to the living wage commitment made in 2013

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

Your company made a ground-breaking and widely publicized commitment in 2013, giving the workers in your supply chain hope for a better future. You committed to paying your workers a living wage by 2018, based on the rightful judgment that governments are acting too slowly when it comes to increasing minimum wages. As the year 2018 has already begun we are very much looking forward to seeing the commitment fulfilled in the following months... We therefore kindly request that you complement your sustainability reports with the following specific information:

  1. Information on the Living Wage pilot projects carried out as part of H&M’s commitment, including concrete factory information, wage level and development through time at each factory, and lessons learned.
  2. Your definition of a “fair living wage” as well as information on the proposed methodology to calculate a “fair wage” and to make sure that it is actually paid.
  3. Based on the above definition, minimum acceptable wage levels – in concrete terms – for all your production countries.
  4. Detailed information about efforts made within existing living wage initiatives such as ACT.
  5. A cost breakdown of the pricing structure, specifying how labour costs are calculated at present and how that is different from before H&M’s living wage commitment was made (including information on how much more H&M is paying to suppliers to ensure that FOB-prices are high enough to pay all workers the “fair wage”).

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