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20 Jan 2007

Sarah Butler, Times [UK]

Levi’s suspended by ethical group in living wage row

Levi Strauss...has been suspended from the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) for a year in a row over the concept of a living wage. The ETI insists that all its members, ranging from Primark and Tesco to Marks & Spencer, sign up to a list of basic principles...Levi’s, which had been a member of the ETI since 1999, refused to sign, insisting that the concept of a living wage is not properly defined...A Levi’s spokesman said: “Our company code of conduct is completely actionable and we don’t want to include something we can’t really deliver. We support further work on defining what is a living wage, but at the moment we don’t want to include something aspirational in our code.”...Some sources suggested that Levi’s was afraid of potential legal action in the United States if it signed up to the charter, because of the woolly definition of a living wage.