Low wages still plague fashion supply chain
From Logistics Manager Magazine,
Published Tuesday 4 June 2019 10:41 am
Shoppers are buying clothes believing that they are made by
workers earning a living wage, when in reality, low wages continue to be
the status quo across the global industry, a new survey into garment
supply chains says.
The research, by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute,
includes responses from fashion companies such as Adidas, Inditex, Nike,
Gucci and H&M. Amazon, Hugo Boss and Levi Strauss were among the
companies that did not respond.
It says: “While some garment companies are making ambitious
commitments to pay living wages in their global supply chains – indeed,
far more ambitious commitments than are apparent in other sectors—they
are currently falling short when it comes to meaningful action to
implement these commitments.”
There are some 60 million garment workers globally – about 60 per
cent of them are in Asia. Part of the problem, it says is that most
major corporations in the industry lack a robust definition of a “living
wage”, and also lack a clear living wage roadmap and timelines for
reaching the benchmarks.
The report is critical of the fact that companies often hire
independent auditors to monitor factories saying that there is now a
“CSR marketplace” that enables companies to switch auditors if one seems
It is also critical of multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs), saying
“most of these do little to tackle the irresponsible purchasing
practices that have been documented within the scholarly literature to
create pressure towards low wages, such as buying at prices that are not
high enough to cover the cost of living wages or the imposition of
harsh penalties and tight production windows onto suppliers.”
Not surprisingly, the report comes up with a series of
recommendations including, for companies, greater transparency about the
payment of living wages in their supply chains, and better enforcement
strategies. It also argues that governments should make companies
legally responsible for the conditions of people employed by
Ultimately of course, fashion companies are successful because they
are producing clothing that consumers want at a price they are willing
to pay. Perhaps the biggest task of all is educating shoppers about the
financial condition of the people who make their clothes.
The report is available here.