Photo by Anti-Slavery International.
7. OUR COMPANY CODE OF CONDUCT SAYS WE PAY A FAIR WAGE
Putting a code of conduct on a website is not a guarantee that a fair wage is being paid. This is not to say that having this in a code of conduct cannot be useful. It can be used to hold companies to account and, if workers know about the code and what it contains, they can use this to demand better wages.
Putting a code of conduct on a website is not a guarantee that a fair wage is being paid.
The problem is that codes are only worthwhile when proper procedures are in place to implement, monitor, and verify these standards. Companies have to check whether the code is actually implemented and work with supplier factories to make sure that improvements are happening. It also isn’t enough to say that a “fair wage” is paid. Companies need to publicly state what “fair wage” means, using real figures and methodology, as well as publish a plan for how they intend to achieve it.
8. THE ECONOMIC CRISIS HAS CRIPPLED OUR ABILITY TO PAY A HIGHER PRICE
While we acknowledge that the economic crisis has had an impact on company profits, this is a very separate matter to the right to a living wage. A living wage shouldn’t be an bonus that companies can choose or not choose to pay depending on the stock-market performance.
A living wage shouldn’t be an bonus that companies can choose or not choose to pay depending on the stock-market performance.
Workers need a living wage not as a favor but as a necessity, whether it is the right time economically or not. A living wage isn’t only the privilege of the rich.
9. HIGHER WAGES WILL DRAW LOW-PAID NURSES AND TEACHERS INTO THE GARMENT INDUSTRY AND RUIN LOCAL EDUCATION AND WELFARE
Although this appears to be the case at first, this argument underestimates the positive impact higher wages in manufacturing may have on public- and private-sector jobs.
A living wage in manufacturing could see local economies lifted across all sectors and allow developing countries to progress.
With a rise in manufacturing salaries, local governments will receive a higher tax income, allowing them to offer competitive salaries to teachers and nurses. Likewise, with more money circulating in local economies, and more tax paid by public sector workers, the national treasury will receive a boost.
A living wage in manufacturing could see local economies lifted across all sectors and allow developing countries to progress. Although the garment industry purports to benefit developing country national treasuries, it actually prohibits development. All the benefits of cheap labor are siphoned off to profit top-level executives and international shareholders.
10. OUR SHAREHOLDERS DON’T SUPPORT LIVING WAGES FOR WORKERS
It’s a sad fact that companies cannot make decisions based on human rights but have to find the business case for doing the right thing. This fact isn’t going to change. But that doesn’t make it impossible to convince shareholders of the necessity to take action.
Companies like Marks & Spencer use “ethical practices” as their selling points and have increased profits by investing in CSR initiatives.
In 2009, following a series of media exposés, Primark shareholders agreed to appoint a CSR director to the company board, as well as employ a CSR team to address labor rights. Companies like Marks & Spencer use “ethical practices” as their selling points and have increased profits by investing in CSR initiatives.
Furthermore, on the factory level, studies have shown that workers who are well-nourished, work regular hours, and are paid well, work more productively and produce a better product. There are plenty of business cases for paying a living wage. With the right discussions with shareholders, there is no reason support cannot be built.