Pace of change ‘too slow’ on fashion sector wagesNovember 2008
Most British fashion chains are making only ‘glacial’ progress on improving wages in their supply chains, according to a new analysis by a group of non-governmental organizations and trade unions.
The Labour Behind the Label campaign says that of 27 large retail brands it has recently studied, only five – Gap, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon Accessorize, New Look and Next – have publicly committed themselves to what it believes are soundly based projects to increase wages.
Five more – Arcadia, Asda, Primark, J. Sainsbury and Tesco – claim they intend to take action, but a further 11, including Burberry, Debenhams and River Island, have done ‘no work to speak of’. The remaining six companies failed to give the campaign any information on what they are doing.
The campaign says the five best performers have all set up pilot projects to address what it views as the four essentials – working with stakeholders, trying to improve worker representation, examining the influence of buying practices on pay and conditions, and implementing a ‘living wage’ over a defined timespan.
The pressure group, which is the UK arm of the global Clean Clothes Campaign, a coalition of more than 200 NGOs and trade unions, said it was concerned about the general lack of effort it found, especially as many of the companies it studied are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative.
The ETI told EP that ‘the scale and pace of change being achieved... is not enough’ and said companies recognize that they ‘need to drastically improve their business practices’.
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