Friday, October 23, 2009

Do our Supermarkets Pay Suppliers a Living Wage?

The answer is probably 'no'. A new report just out highlights what high street brands are doing (or, to be more precise, not doing) to ensure that workers further back in the supply chain are paid properly.

Lets Clean Up Fashion 2009 has a summary of the state of the High Street, and a brand-by-brand breakdown of how the big names are responding to the challenge of doing justice by their workforce.

from the Introduction:
Since 2006, when our first Clean Up Fashion Report was produced, the world has changed.

Then, the consumer was king and the global economy was riding high. Now, the credit crunch has taken the sparkle from the high street – and led to some household names disappearing
from UK towns and cities (and from this report).

Workers and consumers in the UK have been feeling the pinch and turning to the low cost retailers to help cut their monthly budgets. It’s not just in the UK that workers are suffering the effects of the credit crunch: in countries from Cambodia to Turkey, Bangladesh to Honduras factories are closing and workers are losing even the paltry salaries afforded them by the garment industry. Those that have managed to keep their jobs are facing an increasingly insecure future as a result of economic and environmental crises.

The scandalous truth is that the majority of workers in the global fashion industry rarely earn more than two dollars a day in an industry worth over £36 billion a year in the UK alone. Many have to work excessive hours just to get this meagre amount and have no possibility to earn wages needed to properly feed, clothe, house and educate their families.

...For ten years brands have been promising both workers and consumers that living wages will be paid, despite evidence to the contrary. Workers have been told to wait while brands work out what a living wage is and how to make sure they don’t have to pay the cost. Consumers have been told not to worry – brands care and are doing the best they can. The problem is their best isn’t good enough and workers can’t wait any longer.

Whilst I'm here, on other business:
- good to see Cranmer is back, I was getting worried
- waiting to see the small print. It may be a mixed blessing for Anglo-Catholics. Wonder if FCA saw that coming? Best commentary by far (as always) comes from the Beaker Folk.
- very good sermon on thankfulness by Alison at our church on Sunday, listen online here. Slightly fuzzy, but good stuff.

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