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Global: Brands failing promises made to pay their workers living wage

Author: Jonathan Eley, Financial Times, Published on: 31 May 2019

"Top retailers failing on pledge to pay fair wages, says report", 30 May 2019

Leading international retailers are failing to fulfil their commitments to pay fair wages to some of the poorest workers in the world, according to a new report...

...academics from Sheffield University have found that in many cases compliance with advertised standards is patchy and transparency about progress is limited.

Genevieve LeBaron, a professor of politics at Sheffield University and one of the authors of the study...“Brands made commitments about improving pay and conditions that were quite ambitious, but in many cases they are failing to make good on those commitments,” she said. The definitions used to set out fair pay levels are confusing, as they include multiple specifications of what a living wage is, Ms LeBaron said...

...Many brands have outsourced the process of auditing minimum wage compliance...to NGOs who lack the clout to enforce standards, and whose policies are not always compatible with companies’ own codes of conduct.

Ms Le Baron said brands continue to purchase clothing at prices that are inconsistent with paying decent wages, and industry initiatives to improve conditions had often marginalised workers and their representatives.

“We have been working hard for many years to make sure our products are made with respect for workers’ rights and the environment,” said a spokesman for the retailer [Primark]... “We are now putting more emphasis on communicating our work in this area to our customers.”

H&M...said that industry-wide solutions were necessary to make fair living wages a reality.“We are working together with 21 other brands and the global union IndustriALL, that represents garment workers, towards this goal...This would be a true game-changer and turning point for the industry.”...

...Inditex said it insisted that wages should meet both the basic needs and discretionary income of workers and their families and that they must be earned in a standard working week. “Inditex is committed to support living wages across its supply chain,”...

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Related companies: adidas Amazon.com C&A Décathlon Fruit of the Loom (part of Berkshire Hathaway) G-Star Raw Gap Gucci H&M Hugo Boss Inditex Levi Strauss Nike Primark (part of Associated British Foods) Puma PVH (Phillips-Van Heusen) Tchibo Under Armour Uniqlo (part of Fast Retailing) Zalando SE