Tuesday, September 25, 2018

H&M - Sweated Labour

Fashion giant H&M is failing to fulfil a pledge to ensure garment workers who supply its high-street stores are paid a fair "living wage", forcing many employees to work excessive hours in order to survive.

Based on interviews in six H&M supplier factories in Bulgaria, Turkey, India, and Cambodia, campaigners said none of the workers earned anything near a so-called living wage that would allow them to cover their families' basic needs.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) said Sweden's H&M - the world's second-largest fashion retailer after Zara owner Inditex - had not met a commitment made in 2013 to ensure its suppliers would pay a living wage to some 850,000 textile workers by 2018.

"H&M needs to take action immediately to stop the scandal of poverty wages and workers' rights violations," said Bettina Musiolek of the CCC, an alliance of labour unions and charities. 

The CCC report found that workers in H&M supplier factories in Cambodia earned less than half the estimated living wage, dropping to about a third for those living in India and Turkey. Many worked overtime hours that exceeded the legal limit without being properly paid, while others were only paid the minimum wage if they worked extra hours and met their quota, which the United Nations defines as forced labour, the CCC said. 

"Instead of empty public relations talk, we want to see transparent changes in the real wages of workers in H&M's supply chain," Judy Gearhart, executive director of the U.S.-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), said.

 "However the issue of living wages is bigger than one brand, and too few companies have initiatives to drive up wages," said Peter McAllister of the Ethical Trading Initiative, a group of trade unions, companies and charities of which H&M is a member. "If we are to make sure all garment workers receive a decent wage then encouraging industry-wide action must be a priority," the group's chief executive told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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