H&M shoppers might want to brace themselves for higher prices at the till. The Swedish apparel giant admitted Monday that a price hike could be in order if it’s to deliver its promise of “living wages” to more than 850,000 textile workers by 2018. The announcement came at a meeting with labor advocates in Stockholm, where H&M outlined its plans to boost the wages of workers in countries such as Bangladesh, whose minimum wage hovers below $70 per month. Not that pricing changes will happen anytime soon, Helena Helmersson, head of sustainability at H&M, told AFP.
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Referring to any sticker increase as a long-term “possibility” rather than looming eventuality, Helmersson said that H&M will use its considerable heft to spur its suppliers to improve their payouts. The firm is also lobbying governments to raise minimum wage levels,she added.
H&M said it will spur its suppliers to improve their payouts, as well as lobby governments to raise minimum wage levels.
But wage increases alone may not be enough to help workers break the cycle of poverty, Helmersson warned. “We can set goals to make sure the right pay structures are in place with our suppliers,” she said. “But when it comes to the result … one of the challenges is that when you raise wages—we’ve seen this in Bangladesh—rents are also raised and food prices go up. So they have to find a way to continuously review wages.”