In various garment-producing countries, overtime-as-the-norm is depressing regular/base wage rates. If we look at wage ladders from China, for example, we usually see that regular and overtime wages taken together hover around various living wage estimates. If we consider this and the prevalence of hefty overtime taking place consistently, it’s clear that workers have come to rely on working very long hours in order to earn enough to live on.
Any strategy to increase wages or to reduce overtime needs to address both issues. If we seek to reduce overtime, we need to also consider ways to raise wages, or else workers will object to reductions in overtime. We also need to look beyond wages at overtime causes, such as poor planning and weak productivity gains.
Based on a discussion with Ivo Spauwen, former FWF Verification team member.