A new report claims that “no major clothing brand” is able to show that workers making their clothing in Asia, Africa, Central America or Eastern Europe are paid enough to escape poverty.
Not-for-profit organisation Labour Behind the Label, which campaigns for workers’ rights in the clothing industry, surveyed 32 leading fashion brands, including Arcadia, Asos, Boohoo, Inditex, New Look, Next, Marks & Spencer and Primark (full list below).
Apart from luxury Italian house Gucci, owned by Kering Group, every brand received the lowest possible grade – E – which means they can’t show any evidence of a living wage being paid to any workers in their supply chain.
Gucci received a C, signifying that 25% or more of its workers earn a living wage.
An Asos spokesperson told Drapers: “There is no ‘silver bullet’ to solving these challenges, and we know there’s a lot that needs to be done.
“We can’t achieve this alone, so our ambition is to find long-term solutions to address the key human rights challenges in the garment supply chain through meaningful collaboration.
”To that end, we believe that Act [the industry initiative on living wages in the garment sector] is the most credible initiative with a genuine chance of increasing garment workers’ wages and improving working conditions in a way that is scalable, sustainable and enforceable.”
A spokesperson from M&S added: “We believe it’s vital that our clothes are ethically sourced and we have a very clear set of global sourcing principles that are a condition of working with us.
”We’re committed to working in collaboration with our suppliers, and other retailers and organisations to improve workers’ conditions, support processes to establish fair wages and ensure mature industrial relations in the garment industry.”
Labour Behind the Label’s Tailored Wages UK 2019: The state of pay in the global garment industry report sought to reveal the progress that leading clothing brands have made towards implementing a living wage for the workers producing their clothes.
Author Anna Bryher said: “Five years on from our previous survey on this topic, no brand was able to show any progress towards a living wage being paid. Poverty in the garment industry isn’t improving, it’s getting worse. This situation is urgent.
“Our message to the brands is that human rights can’t wait and workers making the clothes sold on our high street must be paid enough to live with dignity.”
Figures show that minimum wages in Bangladesh are less than a quarter of a living wage, and only a sixth of the amount needed to live on in Romania.
The brands surveyed include:
- Amazon (own brands)
- Asda (George)
- Fast Retailing
- Fruit of the Loom
- G-Star Raw
- Gucci (Kering)
- Hugo Boss
- Levi Stauss & Co
- Marks & Spencer
- New Look
- Sainsbury’s (Tu Clothing)
- Tesco (F&F)
- Under Armour