Safety secured for over 2 million workers under The Bangladesh Safety Accord

Thanks to the outcry from consumers across the world in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013, the Bangladesh Safety Accord drove a policy change among retailers operating in Bangladesh and has resulted in 112 brands committing to the Accord to date, covering at least 1,600 factories and securing the safety of over 2 million workers, mostly women, in Bangladesh.

This is an unprecedented development in the acceptance by retailers of responsibility for safety in their supply chains.

Despite over 1 million signatures from across the world Walmart and GAP continue to refuse to sign up, despite having significant manufacturing in Bangladesh and here in Ireland Dunnes Stores still refuse to acknowledge their consumer’s demands and sign the agreement.

Click here for more information on the BFBSA.

European Campaign calls on retailers to pay garment workers a living wage.

Activists in 15 countries across Europe demand clothing brands pay a living wage to garment workers.

 

Tomorrow, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is joining its European partners in launching a new campaign calling on clothing companies to Pay a Living Wage to garment workers. The #LivingWage campaign begins on 21st October with a week of action in 15 European countries.

 

The campaign launch comes exactly six months after the devastating collapse of Rana Plaza, in which 1,133 Bangladeshi workers were killed. Six months on from the largest industrial accident to hit the garment industry,  millions of workers continue to have no choice but to risk their lives in order to afford a decent life.

 

In Bangladesh, where an estimated 4 million people work in the garment industry, the current minimum wage is just €28.60 (3,000 taka) a month.  This is 11% of the €259.80 (27,369 taka) that Clean Clothes Campaign partner the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculates to be a living wage for the country.

 

For many workers, the lack of a living wage means they must work long hours to earn overtime or bonuses and cannot risk taking time off due to unsafe working conditions or for ill health.

“We force ourselves to work long hours because the salary is not enough to live on, especially because my parents are dependent on my salary as well” says Horn Vy, a 25 year old garment worker in Cambodia.

For Horn Vy and other Cambodian garment workers the minimum wage is €60.95 (336,000 riel), just 21% of the €289.64 (1,596,059 riel) the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculates to be a living wage in Cambodia.

 

“A living wage should be earned before overtime and allow a garment worker to be able to feed herself and her family, pay the rent, pay for healthcare and education and have a small amount of savings for when something unexpected happens.” says Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland.

 

The Irish Clean Clothes Campaign has brought this issue into focus with their 50 sense Campaign, choosing to highlight the truly tiny amount extra it would cost to achieve a living wage within the garment supply chain.

 

 

Arguments of supply and demand and cost sensitive markets don’t stand up against such a insignificant number. Just 50 cent more per garment, paid directly to a worker is the difference between her living with dignity or within a spiraling poverty trap.” says Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland

 

The increase of this €0.50 per garment accounts for just 1.42% of the retail price, a mere drop in the ocean of retailers like Penneys, H&M or Benetton who’s profits soar into the billions each year but as of yet no retailer has successfully integrated a living wage system into their supply chains.

 

Yet a recent survey carried out by Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland shows consumers expect retailers to do just this. According to Nolan,

 

We have seen a clear expectation expressed by consumers for retailers to pay a living wage to their workers. Of the 100 participants, 93% felt it was the responsibility of retailers to ensure their workers were paid a living wage, but we also saw that over 99% or consumers were willing to absorb part or all of the extra cost if retailers demanded it of them.”

 

“Companies must take steps to ensure they are paying a living wage in the countries they source from. Governments must ensure that minimum wages are set at levels that allow people to live with dignity. While low labour costs continue to be exploited throughout the industry it remains impossible to argue that the garment industry is benefiting those who work within it.

 

 

The 50 sense Campaign is supported by NGO’s, unions, schools, colleges and community groups across Ireland and from October 21st they will join activists and advocates for change across Europe to demand clothing companies take control of their supply chains and pay a living wage.

 

The Pay a Living Wage campaign is calling on:

 

  • clothing brands and companies to take action by setting concrete and measurable steps throughout their supply chain to ensure garment workers get paid a living wage.
  • national governments in garment producing countries to make sure minimum wages are set at living wage standards.
  • European governments to implement regulation that make sure companies are responsible for the impact they have on the lives of workers in their supply chain, including their right to earn a living wage.

 

 

–END–

 

Notes to editors:

 

For more information: http://www.cleanclothescampaignireland.org/livingwage

 

The Clean Clothes Campaign works with over 200 partner organisations worldwide to improve working conditions and support empowerment of workers in the global garment industry. The Campaign has offices in 12 European countries. 

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) is an international alliance of trade unions and labour rights activist who are working together to demand garment workers are paid a living wage.  Clean Clothes Campaign is a member of the alliance.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance carry out regular food basket research in the region to calculate new Asia Floor Wage figures.  The 2013 Asia Floor Wage figure is PPP$725. (PPP$ – Purchasing Power Parity $ – are an imaginary World Bank currency built on the consumption of goods and services by people, allowing standard of living between countries to be compared regardless of the national currency. ) To see the AFW in local currency please visit http://www.cleanclothes.org/livingwage/asia-floor-wage-by-country.

Living wage calculations must take into account some common factors including the number of family members to be supported, the basic nutritional needs of a worker and other basic needs including housing, healthcare, education and some basic savings.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance base their calculations on the following assumptions:

  1. A worker needs to be able to support themselves and two other “consumption units” (1 Consumption unit = 1 adult or 2 children)
  2. An adult requires 3,000 calories a day in order to be able to carry out their work.
  3. In Asia food costs account for half a workers monthly outgoings.

Over 70 brands have signed the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord.

Thanks to the outcry from consumers across the world, to date over 70 international brands have signed up to the Bangladesh Building and Fire Safety Accord, securing the safety of over 100,000 workers in the garment industry in Bangladesh.

This is an unprecedented development in the acceptance by retailers of responsibility for safety in their supply chains.

Despite over 1 million signatures from across the world Walmart and GAP continue to refuse to sign up, despite having significant manufacturing in Bangladesh and here in Ireland Dunnes Stores still refuse to acknowledge their consumer’s demands and sign the agreement.

Click here for more information on the BFBSA.

Karachi fire – Initial payments made to victims

JANUARY 2013

UPDATE ON COMPENSATION FOR THE VICTIMS OF KARACHI

After much campaigning, finally in January 2013 KIK signed an agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) to make an initial payment to the victims and their families of US$ 1 million for immediate relief, and to negotiate a long term compensation package with all other involved stakeholders. The initial payment is to be used to compensate the families of those victims who have not received any government compensation as the bodies have not been identified due to the severity of the burns and the decomposition of the bodies. “KIK also expressed a willingness to compensate workers who faced severe injuries in the fire leading to disability and loss of future employment. The remaining workers will be assisted in the next step after a compensation amount is agreed upon through a consensus between all stakeholders including employers and other international companies,” added Karamat Ali.

Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator at CCC: ‘We welcome this agreement and look forward to having the full compensations and relief package, which we estimate will be at least EUR 20 million, to be negotiated soon. We continue our campaign towards other international stakeholders, notably auditing organisations SAI and Rina, to also take their responsibility and pay their share of the compensation needed.”

The National Trade Union Federation in Karachi state that although the high death toll at Ali Enterprises had led to extensive coverage of the fire, this is not an isolated incident but a regular occurrence in an industry that is poorly regulated and largely non unionised.

The fire  follows a pattern of negligence occurring not just in Pakistan but throughout the garment industry. Brand and retailers must therefore take more action to address the root causes of such disasters. Brands and retailers need to take responsibility for improving conditions, enforcing international labour standards and need to work with worker representatives to address safety issues in every country they source from if future tragedies are to be avoided.

Eighth Anniversary of Spectrum Factory Collapse

April 11 marks the eighth anniversary of the tragic collapse of the Spectrum garment factory. In 2005 the illegally built extra floors within the building collapsed, killing 64 workers and injuring 80 others. The tragedy set the standard for worker compensation, yet workers of recent fatal accidents remain without compensation.

Almost a decade after Spectrum, buildings in Bangladesh remain structurally unsafe: buildings are illegally converted into factories and factories run day and night in order to meet production targets. Keeping costs low is prioritized while widespread fatal health and safety faults remain. Faulty electrical circuits, unstable buildings, inadequate escape routes and unsafe equipment are a major cause of death and injury.

Only four months ago, the fire at Tazreen – a factory close the former location of Spectrum – cost the lives of 112 workers and injured scores of others. Again, the high death toll was linked to illegally built constructions. Meanwhile, the garment industry in Bangladesh continues to grow at record rates to become the second largest export of apparel after China.

Unless there is a real game-change, workers keep risking their lives for our clothes. That is why CCC, together with labour organisations all over the world, has been pushing brands to start working directly with workers to clean up their supply chain.

To prevent factory fires and collapses, brands sourcing from Bangladesh should join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, signed last year by the US company PVH Corp (owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) and the German retailer Tchibo. This agreement, which was designed  with Bangladesh unions and other labour groups, will mean fewer factory deathtraps. The Safety Agreement allows for independent building inspections, worker rights training, public disclosure and a long-overdue review of safety standards. It is transparent as well as practical, and unique in being supported by all key labour stakeholders in Bangladesh and internationally.

Remembering Aminul Islam – A year after his murder

Aminu One Yearl

April 4th 2013 marks the year anniversary of Aminul Islam.

Last year Aminul Islam was brutally tortured and murdered as a direct result of his work to improve working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers.

This brutal torture and murder sent a direct message to those working in the industry of what their future would hold if they attempt to demand their basic human rights and challenge the unjust system.

The recent spate of factory fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan is a clear reminder of the daily struggle of garment works who make clothes for all our high street retailers.

Last year Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland launched an Urgent Appeal calling on the Bangladeshi government to properly investigate his murder, this was never done.

A year on, we remember the plight of Aminul whose life ended so tragically as a direct result of his humanity and good work. We continue to call on the Bangladesh Government to fully investigate his death and ensure the safety of trade unionists and garment workers.

Read more about his case on our website here, and here is a link to an article by the Solidarity Center of American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) 

Living Wage Cambodia

Dignity not Poverty; Support a Living Wage in Cambodia

Garment workers should earn a living wage which can sustain a decent life. In most garment producing countries a living wage is a far cry.

Poverty wages carry severe consequences for workers and their families: extremely long working hours to earn enough to survive, malnutrition due to lack of sufficient food, appalling housing conditions and inadequate health care. Cambodia’s garment industry is the key source of foreign income for the country and employs 350.000 – 450.000 workers. After a big strike in 2010 the wages increased slightly but escalating prices for food, energy and housing leave the workers worse off than before.

Minimum Wage versus Living Wage

In Cambodia the workers who produce the clothes you and I wear earn a minimum wage of 61 US$/month. In addition they have the legal benefits: 5 US$ cost of living allowance, 10 US$ attendance bonus and 7 US$ for housing or transportation. A total of $81 a month. To put this  in context,  recent studies have determined a Cambodian worker needs at least $131 a month to live with in health and dignity.

Brands such as H&M, Zara, Levi’s and GAP are major buyers in Cambodia and benefit from the low production costs. But the cheap prices come at a human cost.

Join our campaign by telling these brands they have a clear responsibility to act to implement a living wage.

  • Support an immediate wage hike to 131 US$
  • Contribute to an increase in allowances for attendance, food, housing and transport
  • Push for regular wage negotiations in the garment industry
  • Publish a concrete action plan to deliver a living wage – the Asia Floor Wage – to all workers in your supply chain

What is a living wage?

The Cambodia living wage campaign lean on the following definition of a living wage:
“In line with the ILO Conventions n°95 and 131, ILO Recommendations n°131 and 135 and the Human Rights Declaration (Art 23), wages and benefits paid for a standard working week shall meet at least legal or industry minimum wage standards and always be sufficient to meet basic needs of workers and their families and to provide discretionary income”.

The Clean Clothes Campaign understands that a Living Wage

– applies to all workers and that there may not be any wage lower than this wage
– must be reached within the standard working week (which is in no case more than 48h) exclusive of benefits/bonuses or overtime pay
– must cover the basic needs of the worker and their families (one wage covers 2 adults and 2 children)
– must  provide some discretionary income (which is at least 10% of the amount needed to cover the basic needs)

Who stands behind the living wage campaign?

The mission of the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is to improve working conditions and support the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industry. We are a coalition of campaigns in 15 European countries with a network of more than 250 organizations worldwide. We work in close cooperation with partners in garment producing countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Our partner in this campaign is the trade union Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) which has over 50 000 members. C.CAWDU works independently from political parties and takes a constructive approach on social dialogue at different level: They provide training and education, support mobilisation, strikes and rallies, promote and negotiating collective agreements with factories and participate in social policy dialogue on key reforms.

SIGN THE PETITION NOW

SUPPORT THE LIVING WAGE CAMBODIA CAMPAIGN NOW BY CLICKING HERE