FWF’s Workplace Education Programme (WEP) aims to help workers develop the skills and confidence to speak up and discuss wage conditions in their place of work. One of the key principles underpinning the work carried out by FWF is the notion that the best wage is a negotiated wage. FWF member brands work toward ensuring that their suppliers pay workers living wages to enable them to enjoy decent living standards. To see this change, workers and their representatives must be involved in this process to make it sustainable.
FWF is very happy to launch Living Wages: An Explorer’s Notebook, the next step forward in figuring out the routes brands and factories can take to achieve payment of living wages. The innovative guide offers concrete advice, based on real-life experience.
The Notebook defines nine obstacles that stand in the way of living wages, and offers some solutions for overcoming them. ‘For the first time, garment brands can access real life examples and concrete guidance on implementing higher wages,’ explains FWF’s Associate Director Sophie Koers. ‘For example on how to select a factory partner, collaborate with other brands and set the target wage.’
‘Start paying higher wages. Now. Analyse what worked and what didn’t. And then keep going.’
This sentence summarises FWF’s advice to brands that seek to make real strides towards living wages in their supply chains. And it offers more concrete advice on how to do this in Living Wages: An Explorer’s Notebook.
Use the tools below to further support efforts to raise wages in your supply chain.
When I visited Bangladesh in 2014, one year after Rana Plaza collapsed, hope was blowing through the air. Hope, that after so many years of repression against trade unions, positive development was possible.
A guest blog by Doug Miller, emeritus professor Worker Rights in Fashion, University of Northumbria
Hats off to Fair Wear Foundation for really doing the necessary groundwork (wage ladders/labour costing/living wage cost engineering/seeking clarification on the Anti-Trust-competition in respect of buyer collaboration). All this helps us get closer to mechanisms for eradicating poverty wages in the global apparel industry. We are I think now at the cusp of nailing the implementation questions when it come to a ‘living wage’. For me there are a number of key realisations in this debate.
A guest blog by Jenny Holdcroft, Policy Director at IndustriALL Global Union
The Bangladesh Accord has seen an unprecedented level of cooperation between global brands and trade unions which has enabled comprehensive, industry-wide solutions to be applied to fire and building safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories. This experience has opened up possibilities for new solutions to be found to other entrenched supply chain rights challenges, including the struggle for a living wage.
A guest blog by Oxfam GB’s Ethical Trade manager Rachel Wilshaw
One of the initiatives highlighted in Oxfam’s new briefing paper Steps towards a living wage in global supply chains is that of the UK living wage campaign. This was started by parents in the East End of London, whose long working hours on the minimum wage meant they had little time to spend with their families. The Living Wage Foundation was established in 2011 to develop and promote a scheme which accredits employers who pay £7.85 per hour (£9.15 in London) compared with a national minimum wage of £6.50.
The vast majority of garment workers – in some regions as many as 95% – are women. Women are found in the lowest-paid jobs in garment factories, and are much less likely than men to work in better-paid supervisory or managerial roles. Women are low-paid: they and their families stand to gain most from a living wage in the apparel sector, and in future blogs I will explore the reasons why.
The story of FWF member brand Mayerline and one of its suppliers, the first Turkish knitwear company with a Collective Bargaining Agreement
Effective collective bargaining is the most sustainable way to improve working conditions and help secure living wages for workers in the garment sector. Brand involvement can be crucial in creating an enabling environment. This is clearly shown by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in December 2013 between the Textile, Knitting and Clothing Workers’ Union of Turkey (Teksif) and a supplier of FWF member brand Mayerline.
Workers sit at the core of all of this work. FWF’s approach is designed to integrate workers wherever possible. Examples include our worker-focused interview methodology; the inclusion of worker representatives in monitoring and remediation discussions when possible; worker complaint and training programmes; and worker surveys.
‘Ultimately, it is not up to outsiders to decide what a living wage should be,’ explains FWF’s Sophie Koers. ‘It is up to the workers and unions and local collective bargaining processes.’
The FWF approach to living wages is pretty simple:
At FWF we are doing all three of these in tandem. Of course, of these three tranches of work, the third is the most important for workers. And to take effective action on wages, FWF members and stakeholders need tools. To this end, tool development continues.