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Schijvens has been making corporate workwear and uniforms from their headquarters in the Netherlands for more than 150 years. The family-run business prefers a hands-on approach when it comes to their production, and in 2010, they joined Fair Wear to see how they could improve their practices further. By 2017, they were able to achieve a milestone of establishing a living wage at their supplier in Mersin, Turkey. They say if they can do it, anyone can.
‘When we decided to introduce a living wage, we first asked Fair Wear to help us, and then we asked the workers what they needed,’ explained Schijvens’ director, Shirley Schijvens. After consulting with the workers and factory management at their factory in Mersin, Turkey, Schijvens determined that a pay increase of 500 lira per worker was needed. Within one month, they had increased every worker’s wage to the level of a living wage, also raising the salaries of more experienced workers to maintain wage differences based on skill. On average, they calculated that this increase would cost them an additional 15 euro cents per garment. It was an increase they first decided to absorb internally, and in the long-term, made work by bringing awareness to their customers.
If you create awareness, then the customers will also feel responsible.Schijvens
‘If you create awareness, then the customers will also feel responsible,’ Schijvens said. That sense of shared responsibility can then be spread down the supply chain and costs can be distributed.
Schijvens’ successful introduction of a living wage in their Mersin factory is an exciting step, one they hope to take in all the factories they work with. As Schijvens sees it: ‘It’s very much possible. Not only within your own factory but also with outside suppliers. It’s our responsibility, not just as business owners—but as human beings—to think about these things.’
Learn more about establishing a living wage.