Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network (WSRN) launched a website that sets out a concrete proposal for enforceable, binding agreement between global brands and unions on payment of living wages to garment workers. The groups represent a broad coalition of unions, advocacy groups and NGOs and have received tremendous support from other allies across the globe. By launching this public website all actors can provide input and suggestions, and engage in discussions as well as offer support and endorsement.
Brands are the primary profit accumulators in the garment supply chain, dictating what prices are being paid while barely abiding by minimum wage standards. Because of the extremely low prices brands pay for labour, most workers are forced to work overtime hours in order to make ends meet. Voluntary brand or multi-stakeholder initiatives have thus far failed miserably to address this core issue of the garment industry and not led to any wage increases for workers and certainly not to payment of a living wage
WageForward.org highlights the important benefits of the Enforceable Brand Agreements (EBA) and Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) approach. Just as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Fair Food Program have dramatically improved the safety and living conditions of supply chain workers, EBAs within the garment industry holds a real promise for addressing the crises caused by poverty wages.
The proposed agreement will also include strong protections for workers’ right to organize and the guaranteed access to a 24-hour complaint mechanism to report violations to the agreement. Grassroots unions, brands and labor rights groups will be signatories to the agreement and signatory brands will be required to terminate business with suppliers that violates the agreement. If they don’t, they will face legal action as the agreement is legally-binding.
WageForward.org has launched during a time in which many workers’ main concern has shifted from the lack of payment of a living wage to sometimes a lack of any payment whatsoever. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the sector brutally hard: hundreds of thousands of garment workers are owed billions of dollars.
WageForward.org highlights how immediate action is required from brands to ensure workers receive full wages and benefits, including severance, during the pandemic. Proposals have been developed for an enforceable Severance Guarantee Fund, a Wage Assurance and a Supply-Chain Relief Contribution. The remedy for workers’ immediate needs must be combined with these types of enforceable measures in order to prevent future human rights violations in the global garment industry.