Steps Towards a Living Wage in Global Supply Chains

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Oxfam have published a report detailing that steps are being taken in the right direction for securing a living wage in global supply chains.

Although progressive coorporate codes incorporated a living wage in the late 90s, it has taken until now for companies to give serious consideration to payment of a living wage in their own operation and supply chains. Influenced by the increasing momentum of living wage campaigns, the issue of 'fairer pay' has become one of a reptutational risk and companies have begun to take positive action. 

In the retail sector, GAP has committed to raise the wage floor of its employees in the USA to $10 in 2015..

In the food sector, Nestle have become the first major food manufacturer in the UK to become an accredited Living Wage employer in 2014...

And in the furniture and furnishings sector IKEA have worked with Fair Wage Network on an assessment of its retail units in four countries against the '12 dimensions of a fair wage'. It is now working to close the gaps indentified.

"We have been able to increase our knitting worker's incomes by one third...Workers can go home on time and spend evenings and weekends with their families. Our workers stay with us for longer and have better skills"
- Director operations, RMG factory, Bangladesh.

Stakeholder collaboration in the banana industry

Since 2010 the World Banana Forum has enabled multi-stakeholder dialogue on these kinds of issues facing the industry. Perhaps one of the biggest achievements came November 2014 when Tesco became the first retailer to announce that it would pay a living wage to banana workers in key sourcing sites by 2017.

But are these initiatives an investment in deeper change? Whilst they represent steps in the right direction little has changed for workers. To achieve a tipping point, a more systematic approach is needed. This goes beyond increasing value for wages and leads towards government having inclusive minimum wage-setting processes, employers who have bought into the agenda and have the capacity and flexibility to deliver it, and workers being able to negotiate terms. 

You can access the whole report here.