New initiatives on Living Wages / Fair wages

Alliance around one living wage method

Six members of ISEAL alliance organisations -Fairtrade International, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), GoodWeave, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance (SAN/RA), Social Accountability International (SAI) and UTZ Certified- have agreed to work together to promote a living wage for workers around the world.

They have agreed to adopt a common methodology developed by Richard and Martha Anker who have recently developed for them benchmarking studies in four countries: a region of Kenya, rural South Africa, Dominican Republic and Malawi. The next objectives are to cover more countries notably through the development of guiding manual on their living wage methodology.

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German government initiative in supply chains in garment sector

In April 2014, Development Minister Gerd Müller invited various stakeholders to form a Round Table on the Textiles Industry to discuss options for improving environmental and social standards in the textile industry. More than 70 representatives of the textile sector, unions and civil society took part in the Round Table and drafted an ambitious Plan of Action. On 16 October 2014, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles was officially launched. The Partnership is intended to foster the continuous improvement of social, environmental and economic sustainability along the entire textile value chain. The Plan of Action also lays down the stages in which the Partnership Standards are to be implemented and the ways in which members are to demonstrate implementation.

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FLA Fair compensation work plan

After a process of consultations with brands, suppliers, universities, and civil organizations, the FLA and its affiliates agreed to a new strategy, presented in its Fair compensation plan, aimed at better measuring progress and affiliates accountable on living wage/fair wage.

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The living wage campaign in the UK

The Living Wage Foundation encourages employers in the UK to pay the Living In 2001 London Citizens, an independent community alliance, launched the Living Wage campaign, that has then rapidly developed in the UK with notably the action of the Living Wage Foundation that offers accreditation to employers that pay the Living Wage – an hourly rate set independently and updated annually by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

It also coordinates the Living Wage Week each November, a UK wide celebration of the Living Wage. In 2011 only two of the top 100 UK companies were living wage employers; now there are 19, with 10 more in the pipeline and over 1000 accredited employers in total.

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Brands’ platform on the living wage

14 garment brands and retailers have set up a platform under the Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT for ‘Action, Collaboration and Transformation’) banner where they made a commitment to work with their suppliers in order to enabling some core principles for living wages. Members of the group are also in the process of signing an MoU with IndustriALL Global Union.

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FairWear living wage portal

Fair Wear Foundation recently launched early April its living wage portal. The objective is to propose a platform with interviews, articles, best practices to uncover and overcome the many obstacles that prevent garment workers from earning a living wage. This new tool complements the wage ladder which proposes some wage thresholds to help members set improvement targets.

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German and Dutch governments’ initiative on living wage

An International conference on the living wage was organised in Berlin on 25-26 November 2013 under the initiative of the German and Dutch governments. An action plan was presented to the conference, setting out the responsibilities of governments, business, MSIs, trade unions and other civil society organisations to take steps towards a living wage. It led different stakeholders to respond to this call on living wage (see for instance brands’ ACT platform above).

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ETIs paper and conference on living wage

ETIs (Denmark, Norway; UK) joined forces (under JETIs) to prepare a paper on the living wage that will be presented at the ETI conference on the living wage, London, 29-30 April 2015. Entitled ‘Living Wages in Global Supply Chains: A New Agenda for Business’, this report provides a comprehensive assessment of wage issues and recent initiatives on the living wage and, on this basis, offers a new agenda on global supply chain wages, outlining practical steps for companies – both large and small – to take, informed by the framework established under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

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