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H&M Admits There’s a Simple Way to Pay Garment Workers More

H&M Admits There’s a Simple Way to Pay Garment Workers More

Written by Bryce Covert

Swedish retailer H&M said on Monday that it could eventually raise its prices to help pay the factory workers who make its products better wages, according to Agence France Presse. The company’s head of sustainability told the paper that such an option “might be a possibility,” although it won’t come in the near future.

In the meantime, however, she said the company would use “its size and influence with suppliers” to increase wages and get the workers better training, the paper noted. It will also push governments to raise their minimum wages.

Viveka Risberg, with the organization Swedwatch that monitors multinational corporations in the country, noted that H&M’s statement is “the first time ever” a retailer had said it could raise prices.

Garment factory workers have been protesting in large numbers for higher wages in Bangladesh and Cambodia, and the strikes have turned violent as protesters clash with police. Bangladesh recently raised its minimum wage to 5,300 takas a month, or $66, a 77 percent increase over its previous wage of $38. Yet it fell far short of what workers had been demanding and still leaves them the worst paid in the world.

But Bangladesh is far from alone in failing to guarantee that its workers make enough to live on. Of the top 21 countries that export garments to the United States, workers in 15 make just a third of what would amount to a living wage. Wages have also been declining in many of these countries.

H&M was also one of the first retailers to sign on to a legally binding agreement to upgrade Bangladesh’s garment factories after a fatal collapse that killed more than 1,100 in April. While the majority of the country’s factories are vulnerable to collapse, if companies decided to raise their prices to pay for the upgrades, it would cost consumers just 10 cents more per garment.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: ILO in Asian and the Pacific

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75 comments

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3:57PM PST on Dec 27, 2013

ty

1:06PM PST on Dec 19, 2013

I mean, 10 ct is so doable, why isn't it done yet? Just about nobody would notice 10ct...

6:50PM PST on Dec 18, 2013

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT. Always worth repeating.

11:38AM PST on Dec 18, 2013

Thanks

7:19PM PST on Dec 16, 2013

I would gladly pay more for cloths if they were made in the US.

6:07PM PST on Dec 16, 2013

Buy American Made !

8:44AM PST on Dec 16, 2013

I don't mind paying a bit more...and ten cents per garment is doable. BUT, I would prefer to see some of the upper mgmt take pay cuts or at least not get a raise and/or bonus in order to pay their workers adequately. We have seen too many disgustingly high salaries for a few people at the top while those actually producing the profit make squat.

8:06AM PST on Dec 16, 2013

thanks

5:11AM PST on Dec 16, 2013

I agree with you Jacqueline V.

Why should the customers pay more, when quite frankly you can simply earn a little less! Im not saying that they don't deserve their pay rise, I feel like they definitely should be paid much more.. but let it come out of your profits not our savings!

I don't see the point of making clothes cost more, H&M is not exactly renowned for its great quality.. so I would not pay more when the items being purchased have not increased in value!

2:05AM PST on Dec 16, 2013

I would def pay more so these poor people can earn a somewhat better wage...but i prefer to shop in independent shops anyway--support our local designers.

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