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H&M’s campaign to ensure ‘fair living wages’ failed

H&M’s ‘fair living wages’ campaign, started back in 2013 to provide its global workforce of 850,000 (estimated) workers a fair living wage, has failed dismally and the deadline of 2018 passed without fulfillment of the promise.

H&M’s ‘fair living wages’ campaign has failed dismally
Figure: H&M’s ‘fair living wages’ campaign has failed dismally and the deadline of 2018 passed without fulfillment of the promise.

In July 2018, the Swedish retail giant implemented a new wage-management system, to provide a standard wage and a better working condition for all of its workers at 500 supplier factories representing 50 percent of its product volume.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) said in a tweet, “That’s it! 2018 has gone by, and with it, @hm’s self-imposed deadline to pay 850,000 workers a living wage,” the global coalition of labor unions and workers’ rights groups wrote. “So #HM is kicking off the new year as a full-fledged promise breaker.”

H&M has been steadily rephrasing and diluting the commitment made in 2013.

Neva Nahtigal, a campaign strategist and public outreach coordinator, CCC

“Nowhere in the description of the ‘wage management system’ does H&M acknowledge that the core reason workers make poverty wages is the downward price pressure exerted by H&M,” said Sarah Newell, a campaigner at ILRF.

For certain the goal of H&M have slowly but surely shifted over the years from its initial commitment of ‘fair living wages’ to something less determinate ‘improving the wage-management system.’ And International Labor Rights Forum, launched the #TurnAroundH&M campaign with CCC to hold H&M up to its original ambition.

“H&M has been steadily rephrasing and diluting the commitment made in 2013,” said Neva Nahtigal, a campaign strategist and public outreach coordinator at CCC, wrote in a blog post in April.

Although, Jenny Fagerlin, global social sustainability manager at H&M Group disagrees.

“The first steps are all about creating mechanisms, processes, and collaborations—as well as a new mindset,” Fagerlin said in a statement issued in December. “Indeed, [they are] complex and not very straight-forward things to communicate around, but [they are] essential when it comes to making fair living wages a reality for garment workers. That is what we have been working towards these past five years.”

H&M’s plan, she repeated, was about creating a “new mindset” both at its supplier factories and within its own operations.

Also read: H&M organizes ‘Fair Living Wage Summit 2018’

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