'Fashion Checker' reveals brands still fail to pay workers fair wages during pandemic, as unions & campaigners call for more transparency
"Fashion Checker relaunched", 20 September 2021
All brands researched by Fashion Checker still fail to guarantee that workers in their supply chain receive their pre-pandemic wages during the pandemic, let alone living wages, despite their promises to respect labour rights in their supply chains. The data confirms the need for binding agreement as the global Pay Your Workers coalition calls for brands to sign a Wage Assurance, demanding that brands #PayYourWorkers.
Many brands make promises and claims about respecting workers’ rights and paying living wages but with no transparency, they remain mere claims and workers, unions and civil society organisations are unable to hold brands accountable to their promises.
The updated Fashion Checker data, collected in collaboration with Fashion Revolution, focuses specifically on transparency and reveals a disturbing truth; A disappointingly large number of brands are still doing nothing or very little on transparency. 159 brands (60%) receive a 1 or 2-star rating, which means that they do not comply with the Transparency Pledge. Only 46 out of 264 brands (17%) receive five stars, meaning they disclose extra information about their supply chain – for example whether or not there is a union in the workplace.
“Brands must stop hiding their supply chains. Their clothes are made by real people, often hid hardest by the pandemic. When violations of worker rights occur, they need to know where to get remedy. And consumers deserve to know where, and how, clothes are produced” - Paul Roeland, transparency coordinator, CCC
While brands were also given the opportunity to inform CCC about any changes affecting their Living Wage scores, brands were not specifically surveyed on wage commitments and payment of living wage during the covid-19 pandemic, as reports show they are failing to even pay the legal minimum wage or pre-pandemic wages. Currently, only 5 brands claim to be paying living wages to as least some of the workers in their supply chains. The lack of progress in payment of living wages to garment workers during the pandemic while brand executives like those at Nike encourage prioritising the mental health of their collueges proves the adage; out of sight, out of mind.
“I have to pay debt, water, and electricity bills monthly, but my wages are not enough. I don't want to see high production targets with a decreasing number of workers to meet them. We don't have enough income to pay for our basic living costs.” said a worker from Cambodia who produces for Primark.
Lack of transparency in the global fashion supply chain has allowed brands to deny workers their legally owed wages and severance. For instance, workers in Cambodia were deprived of an estimated US$ 109 million in wages during the April and May 2021 national lockdown. CCC estimates that workers globally are owed at least 11.85 billion US Dollars during the year of the pandemic from March 2020 to March 2021.