Response to ‘cry for help’ notes found in Penneys garments.

Clean Clothes Campaign responds to recent stories of ‘calls for help’ found in Penneys clothing.

Over the past week there have been reports of notes for help or messages stitched into clothing sold by Irish retailer Penneys purportedly from workers suffering inhumane conditions in the production of clothes for the retail giant.

Clean Clothes Campaign, in response to the stories says, “It is difficult to know whether these notes are genuine. However speculation on the origin of the messages should not distract from the known reality which is that the conditions described – in particular long hours, poverty pay and unsafe working conditions – are a fact of life for the majority of women and men producing clothes for high street brands including Primark.

“As our recent reports, Tailored Wages 2014 and Stitched Up – Eastern Europe Report clearly demonstrate inhumane conditions and wages that full far short of a living wage are endemic in the industry and can be found from clothing factories in Bangladesh to Bulgaria, Cambodia to Croatia.

“Penneys are not alone in sourcing from these factories and it is important that Penneys and all clothing brands take action and put an end to exploitative and inhumane purchasing practices and ensure the people who make their clothes are paid a living wage in decent working conditions.

“To pay a decent living wage would cost a brand like Primark just 50 cents more paid directly to a worker. As these stories have shown, cheap fashion at the expense of another persons dignity does not lie comfortably in the mind of consumers.”

TAILORED WAGES – NEW REPORT INVESTIGATES LEADING RETAILERS’ WORK ON LIVING WAGES

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Tailored Wages – new report investigates clothing brands’ work on living wages.

 Survey of 39 leading clothing brands on Irish high-street show they must do much more to ensure garment workers receive a wage they can live on.

Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland has launched ‘Tailored Wages’ an in depth study of what the leading 39 clothing brands on the Irish and European high-street are doing to ensure that the workers who produce the clothes they sell are paid a living wage.

 Based on a multi-brand survey “Tailored Wages” found that whilst half of those surveyed included wording in their codes of conduct saying that wages should be enough to meet workers’ basic needs; only four brands – Inditex (Zara), Marks & Spencers, Switcher and Tchibo – were able to show any clear steps towards implementing this – and even they have a long way to go before a living wage becomes a reality for the garment workers that produce for them.

Irish retailers lag behind

 Of the Irish retailers requested to participate, only Penneys were willing to share their projects and ongoing work with relation to workers’ wages. Neither Dunnes Stores nor O’Neills sportswear suppliers were able to supply even rudimentary information on codes of conduct or ethical trading policies.

Download the full report hereTailored Wages 2014

More action and less talk

“Although a living wage is a human right, shockingly none of Europe’s leading 50 companies is yet paying a living wage,” said Anna McMullen, the lead author on the report. “The research showed that while more brands are aware of the living wage and recognise that it is something to be included in their codes of conduct and in CSR brochures, disappointingly for most of the brands surveyed this was as far as they went. With millions of women and men worldwide dependent on the garment industry it is vital that these words are turned into definitive actions sooner rather than later.”

Co-author, Kate Nolan of Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland added “We were disappointed but not surprised to find that so many retailers are doing so little to ensure living wages are met in their supply chains. The fact remains that a living wage is a human right and retailers who continue to abdicate their responsibilities in this matter are infringing upon those workers’ human rights”

Struggle for living wages reaching critical point

In key garment producing countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia the struggle for a living wage continues, as latest figures from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance show that living wage levels are, on average, three times the minimum wage a garment worker receives.

Cambodian workers, currently receive  USD 100 a month, just 25% of the Asia Floor Wage calculation for Cambodia, while even after the post Rana Plaza disaster and enormous global pressure to increase the minimum wage to meet workers needs, Bangladesh stands at just 21%.

“My expenses are increasing every day,” says Lili, a factory worker from Cambodia. “Even if we [the workers] eat all together in a small room and I collect the money from all others, we still can only spend a very small amount each because everybody always thinks ‘how are we going to be able to send money home to our families?”

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The Clean Clothes Campaign carried out the research to monitor how far policies are being turned into practice by major clothing brands. The role of companies in ensuring a living wage is paid is vital as they have the ability to change prices and purchasing practices that would ensure wages allowed garment workers to live with dignity.

What should a living wage cover

 

 

Tailored Wages is part of a global campaign run by Clean Clothes Campaign and partners the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calling on all brands and governments to take action in order to ensure a living wage is paid.