Making a Commitment to Living Wages | February 2019
Oxfam has been calling on big clothing brands to make a credible commitment to living wages. This means a commitment with a correct definition of living wages, and an outline of at least one or two actions companies will take to get there, along with a time-frame. Here’s a summary of where brands have gotten to since October 2017:
(Owned by Hanes Brands Australasia)
(Owned by City Chic Collective)
(Owned by Factory X)
(Owned by Just Group)
(Owned by Wesfarmers)
(Owned by Noni B)
(Owned by Inditex)
Best & Less
Sadly, Best & Less have made no significant progress on living wages. And, they STILL have not brought their factory list out of hiding!
Big W has taken some positive steps. They’ve put some initiatives in place to improve their grievance mechanisms and their 2020 CSR strategy states they will move towards paying living wages. Big W are committed to working with Oxfam and other stakeholders into the future. But as yet, they have not published clear milestones for action on achieving living wages with timeframes.
Bonds (Owned by HanesBrands Australasia)
HanesBrands (who own Bonds) recently published survey results on workers’ wellbeing in their factories, including some information on wages. But this isn’t enough to show they pay living wages. Over 80% of garments come from factories HanesBrands directly owns, or from contractors who only provide garments for HanesBrands. This means they have direct control over workers’ wages. But, HanesBrands are yet to make a clear, credible commitment on living wages.
City Chic (Owned by City Chic Collective)
Go City Chic! They have recently made a clear commitment to ensure payment of living wages by 2020. They have also reported that at least 80% of workers are currently paid a living wage against the Global Living Wage Coalition benchmarks. This great commitment and move by City Chic shows that smaller boutique brands are able to make strong commitments on living wages.
Cotton On really cottoned on to living wages in February 2019! They published a strong comment and timeframe towards improving purchasing practices (how they source their clothes from different factories.) Cotton on also committed to developing a five-year implementation roadmap with key milestones and a framework to track and record progress. The new purchasing standard has been developed through the ACT Initiative*, which they joined in May 2018. Cotton On’s actions are a good model for other brands to follow. Awesome work, Cotton On.
Country Road is far behind many other brands. They have made no significant progress on living wages – and they are yet to publish their factory list as well.
David Jones has committed to running a living wage pilot program with a time frame of 2020. Unfortunately, their factory list is still in hiding, and they need to consider adding more detail to their definition of living wages to clearly communicate their commitment to paying a living wage.
Dangerfield, Gorman (Owned by Factory X)
Factory X brands including Dangerfield and Gorman took the significant step of bringing their factory lists out of hiding in 2018. Nice work!
They have also made a public statement of commitment to work towards paying living wages and are mapping their wage data using Global Living Wage Coalition benchmarks, with plans to report publicly on this by 2021. But apart from mapping their supply chain, they have not yet made clear commitments to actions that will help ensure the payment of living wages. We’re hoping they publish clear actions to help ensure living wages are paid – with timeframes – soon!
Forever New have mapped their wage data using Global Living Wage Coalition benchmarks and plan to conduct training on their ‘Responsible Sourcing & Purchasing Policy’ – good stuff.
But they are yet to make a credible commitment to ensure payment of living wages and publish time-bound milestones.
H&M made a big commitment to living wages in the past – but haven’t met this goal. Still, they joined ACT* before 2017 and do have some milestones and timeframes on their website for future actions on living wages. So, H&M do get a ‘green face’ for their commitment, but they’ve said things in the past that they haven’t stuck to. This time round, we look forward to holding them to their commitment!
Jeanswest took the important step of publishing their full supplier lists in March 2018, bringing their factory lists out of hiding. Good job! However, they haven’t made any significant progress on living wages.
Just Jeans, Peter Alexander (Owned by Just Group)
The Just Group did take a positive step by joining they Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in 2018. But they have made no significant progress on living wages as yet, and their factory lists are still in hiding.
Kmart, Target (Owned by Wesfarmers)
Way to show leadership Kmart and Target! This month, they made a credible public commitment to work towards living wages. They have published milestones & a timeframe towards improving purchasing practices in order to help lift wages in their supply chain. They also committed to develop an implementation roadmap with key milestones and a framework to track and record progress. Their new purchasing standard has been developed through ACT*, (Kmart and Target have been a member since 2015.) Now we need other companies to follow this lead.
Myer has made no significant progress on living wages – and like some other stragglers they have not published their factory list.
Millers, Rivers, Katies, Noni B (Owned by Noni B Group)
Noni B Group has grown significantly since 2017, acquiring a number of brands including Katies, Rivers and Millers. So far, they have not made significant progress on a commitment to living wages – and they need to also bring their factory list out of hiding.
Zara (Owned by Inditex)
The good news is that Zara is a signatory of ACT* and has published some key milestones and time-frames for action. They have also and reported on their progress in this area so far. Leading stuff. But the bad news is that Zara is yet to publish its factory list – so it’s very hard for unions or NGOs to verify claims about the Zara supply chain. It’s time for some transparency.
* The ACT Initiative (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) on Living Wages is an agreement between global brands and trade unions, through IndustriALL, to transform the garment, textile and footwear industry and achieve living wages for workers. This initiative is strong and has credibility because it includes collaboration between both unions and brands. ACT plans to work towards living wages through collective bargaining at industry level, linked to changes in purchasing practices by brands. Australian brands Kmart, Target and Cotton On have joined 18 global brands including H&M and Zara, to work towards this goal together with the global union IndustriALL. Oxfam would like to see more Australian brands become involved in the ACT Initiative.
- Oxfam Australia does not endorse or have any affiliation with the featured companies.
- Oxfam Australia acknowledges that the copyright in the logos featured is the property of these companies