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Global: Report finds brand commitments to living wage have not led to increased pay for workers

"Big clothes brands found to fall short of own fair wage promises", 30 May 2019

Most major garment companies lack plans for calculating - let alone achieving - a living wage in their global supply chains, despite signing up to initiatives that push for better pay, said researchers at Britain's Sheffield University.

A living wage is supposed to cover the cost of normal family life...plus allow for modest savings and be paid within a normal working week...Only three of 20 big clothes companies...-Sweden's H&M, and Dutch giants C&A and G-Star RAW - have committed to wages that meet that brief, their report said.

And even that commitment has not led to higher earnings...

..."There is little evidence that corporate commitments to living wages are translating into meaningful change on the ground," said Genevieve LeBaron, a politics professor at Sheffield University and lead author of the report. "Consumers are purchasing products they may believe are made by workers earning a living wage, when in reality, low wages continue to be the status quo,"...

...companies including Amazon.com Inc and France's Decathlon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that their suppliers respected local laws on pay and benefits - but did not mention a living wage.

Gap Inc said it was working with partners and other brands to engage governments and encourage wage-setting mechanisms as "we know there is more work to be done".

...Puma said wages should be negotiated locally - and involve workers, management and government - not mandated by global companies or international organisations. "It is not easy to define a 'fair' wage...A recent wage project conducted for PUMA in Bangladesh ... listed five different living wage figures."

...The researchers said there was "widespread inconsistency and confusion" among firms over the definition of a living wage, with many passing the buck by outsourcing vows on better pay to external schemes that are out of step with their own policies.