High street fashion chains ‘slow on ethical progress’

Named and shamed: the high street fashion stores who fail to pay foreign workers a living wage

High street fashion brands are still failing to pay their overseas workers a living wage – despite many promising to do so.

A report published two days before the start of London fashion week on Sunday accuses the £36 billion industry of only just starting to ‘dabble’ with improving the ‘paltry’ pay of those working for its suppliers.

None of the 30 high street brands surveyed in the report is paying its workers a living wage and only 10 get modest credit for their work.

Of those only Gap and Monsoon Accessorise are praised for having clear plans to improve matters beyond pilot projects.

Marks & Spencer, New Look and Next have initiatives with potential for change, while Sainsbury’s, Asda, Primark, Tesco and the Arcadia group, which includes Topshop and Miss Selfridge, claim to have plans but lack concrete information.

Other labels including Levi Strauss, Burberry, French Connection and Matalan are criticised for having done ‘no work to speak of’ on living wages. Seven others such as BHS and Peacocks are said not to have replied.

Published by the anti-sweatshop coalition Labour Behind the Label, the investigation follows exposes of alleged sweatshop conditions, particularly among suppliers in Bangladesh and India.

It says garment workers in other countries including Turkey and Morocco and in eastern Europe are also not getting a living wage, The Guardian reports.

‘The people who make our clothes live in poverty, usually earning half of what they need to meet their basic needs and those of their families,’ said the report’s author Martin Hearson.

‘And 10 years since the bulk of the industry signed up to the principle that all workers should earn living wages, nothing has been done to make that principle a reality.’

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