H&M slammed for failing to pay garment workers living wage despite promises


H&M has been slammed by garment industry group Clean Clothes Campaign for failing to pay suppliers a living wage despite pledges made in 2013.

The fashion giant has been accused of reneging its promise to pay all its strategic and preferred suppliers a “fair living wage” by 2018, with some workers found to be making less than 10 per cent of their base living wage.

In 2013 H&M published its “roadmap towards fair living wages” which aimed to ensure 850,000 workers at its gold or platinum suppliers across the world, understood to produce around 60 per cent of its garments, were paid their relative living wage.

This involved supporting factory workers in developing pay structures that enable fair wages, improving purchasing practices, encouraging governments to set a minimum wage and supporting workers ensuring access to education.

However, Clean Clothes Campaign recently interviewed 62 workers across H&M factories in Bulgaria, Turkey, India and Cambodia and found that none of them were paid a living wage.

Workers in Bulgaria were reportedly paid just nine per cent of what is considered a living wage, classified as a wage which allows the worker to cover their family’s basic food and nutritional needs, housing, healthcare, clothing, transportation and education.

While many of the staff interviewed were understood to live below the poverty line, Sunday work and overtime were commonplace and were not always paid in line with legal requirements.

Many also reported workplace faintings to be commonplace, while workers in all the factories involved in the study reported fear towards organising into independent unions.

One factory in Turkey saw workers work an average of 23 overtime hours per week, though there are understood to be weeks when they’re expected to work 45 extra hours, “work “every day from 8.00 AM until midnight”.

Staff at another factory in Cambodia reported that two thirds of them had fainted at work, while 85 per cent of respondent were on contracts of just one to three months, and all were subjected to illegal disciplinary wage reductions.

H&M have been contacted for comment.

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