H&M accused of failing to ensure fair wages for global factory workers

Employees forced to work excessive hours in order to survive, Clean Clothes Campaign says

Samuel Osborne
Monday 24 September 2018 18:39 BST
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Some workers were only paid the minimum wage if they worked extra hours and met their quota, CCC report says
Some workers were only paid the minimum wage if they worked extra hours and met their quota, CCC report says

H&M has been accused of failing to pay the garment workers who supply its high-street stores a fair “living wage”.

As a result, many employees are forced to work excessive hours in order to survive, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has claimed.

After interviewing 62 people in six H&M supplier factories in India, Cambodia, Bulgaria and Turkey, they said none of the workers earned anything close to a living wage which would allow them to cover their families basic needs.

The CCC said Sweden’s H&M, which is the world’s second-largest fashion retailer after Zara owner Inditex, had failed to meet a commitment it made in 2013 to ensure its suppliers would pay a living wage to around 850,000 textile workers by 2018.

Workers in factories which supply H&M in Cambodia earned less than half the estimated living wage, a figure which dropped to around a third for those living in India and Turkey, the CCC report stated.

Many workers overtime hours which exceeded the legal limit without being properly paid, it added.

Others were only paid the minimum wage if they worked extra hours and met their quota – a situation the United Nations defines as forced labour, the CCC said.

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“H&M needs to take action immediately to stop the scandal of poverty wages and workers’ rights violations,” said the CCC's Bettina Musiolek.

But H&M said it had reached at least 600 factories and 930,000 garment workers with its fair living wage strategy.

The company, which has more than 4,800 stores in 69 nations, also said it did not share the CCC’s view of how to create change in the textile industry.

“There is no universally agreed level for living wages, and wage levels should be defined and set by parties on the labour market through fair negotiations between employers and workers representatives, not by Western brands,” a H&M spokeswoman said.

Additional reporting by Thomson Reuters Foundation

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