Improving working conditions in your clothing supply chain

5: Wages

Wages are one of the most complex issues for brands to address.  The apparel industry provides millions of jobs for people in production countries where there may be few other employment opportunities. Unfortunately, the legal minimum wages in these countries are often so low that people working long hours still live in poverty – and must face all the negative health and social problem that come with being very poor.

The concept of a ‘Living Wage’ – a wage that allows families to provide for basic needs – has been around for a long time. Little progress has been made towards widespread implementation of living wages because there are no internationally agreed-upon standards.

A growing body of research is showing, however, that wage levels make up only a few percent of the final cost of most clothing – and that a small increase can make an enormous difference in the lives of apparel workers. It is increasingly looking like minor adjustments in pricing – or finding small savings in other parts of the production process – might be enough to ensure a decent wage for workers. Consult our resources to read more about what your brand can do.