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Global garment companies are failing to deliver on living wage promises to workers, new SPERI study finds

Since the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in 2013, the garment industry has faced growing pressure to raise wages and improve working conditions from consumers, civil society, unions and governments. Leading global corporations have made ambitious commitments to deliver living wages to the workers who make their clothes.

The new report ‘Corporate Commitments to Living Wages in the Garment Industry‘ concludes that companies are falling short when it comes to meaningful action to implement these commitments and makes a series of detailed recommendations for how more meaningful progress can be made...

The researchers identified significant obstacles to the payment of living wages to workers in the global garment industry:

  • Corporations have outsourced their living wage commitments to multiple external initiatives, which have enforceable standards.
  • Company policies are often out of step with these initiatives.
  • There is widespread inconsistency and confusion among corporations over the definition of a living wage.
  • Corporations lack living wage benchmarks and most lack a ‘roadmap’ for achieving their living wage commitments.
  • Corporations are reliant on ‘social auditing’ for compliance and enforcement of living wage commitments, a tool known to be flawed and to produce misleading depictions of labour standards in supply chains.
  • There is a lack of transparency among corporations about the wages that are actually paid to workers throughout their supplier networks.
  • There is weak enforcement of freedom of association rights, which may disempower workers from raising concerns about unmet wage commitments and engaging in collective bargaining.

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