Bargaining for a Living Wage Campaign
“October 7 World Day for Decent Work: Bargaining for a Living Wage"
In almost every part of the world the story is the same: garment workers don’t earn enough to support their families and as a result are forced to work excessively long hours to try to make ends meet.
Why is this happening?
Most countries have a legal minimum wage but in almost every case this is inadequate to meet basic needs.
Unions in many producing countries are unable to negotiate a living wage because employers suppress the fundamental right of their workers to organise and bargain collectively.
When unions do succeed in engaging in negotiations, their employers claim that because of fierce competition in international markets they will be forced to close down if they have to pay increased wages.
Many of the leading brands that source from these same manufacturers have adopted codes of conduct that provide for the payment of a living wage. Yet this commitment remains a dead letter. While claiming they want their codes of conduct to be respected, brands and retailers continue to engage in purchasing practices that make it impossible for manufacturers to pay a living wage, paying pitiful prices and demanding unrealistic delivery schedules.
And even if a brand or retailer did agree to pay higher prices, there is no guarantee that their suppliers would pass the benefit on to their workers in the form of a living wage.
The ITGLWF believes the best way to secure a living wage is to ensure that workers are free to organise and bargain collectively. That’s why for the World Day for Decent Work on October 7 2008 the ITGLWF has chosen as its campaign theme ‘Bargaining for a Living Wage’.