UK retailers must 'lift their suppliers' workers out of poverty'

6 September 2013

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7 September 2013 | Will Green

Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers’ Federation (NGWF) in Bangladesh, is calling on UK retailers to pay workers in their supply chains a living wage.

Amin is visiting the UK in the run-up to London Fashion Week to highlight the working conditions of those producing clothes for UK outlets, including those involved in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April, where hundreds died. Amin said workers at Rana Plaza typically earned £25 a month.

“The Rana Plaza disaster not only exposed unsafe conditions for workers turning out British stores’ clothes, but the pittance on which they struggle to survive,” he said.

“It is high time UK retail chains, and other companies sourcing from Bangladesh, matched ethical claims with action to lift their suppliers’ workers out of poverty.”

Amin will be raising the issue at the TUC’s annual conference on Monday.

The NGWF’s partner, the charity War on Want, has produced a report to coincide with Amin’s visit – The Living Wage: winning the fight for social justice – which says the only supplier producing clothes for a mainstream brand that pays a living wage is the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic.

The report said more than 600 million people in the Asia/Pacific region earned less than $2 (£1.28) a day.

Graciela Romero, international programmes director at War on Want, said: “The fight for a living wage is a vital part of any movement for social justice.

“It could lead to a fairer distribution of wealth between workers and employers, contributing to poverty reduction and ensuring more of the wealth created within poor countries stays in the local economy, instead of being transferred to the pockets of the rich.”

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