On Tuesday, 7 May, H&M’s shareholders will vote on taking a radical step to address H&M’s ongoing failure to lift workers out of poverty. The shareholder proposal submitted by Clean Clothes Campaign calls for all the profits made by this global fashion retail giant in 2018 to go into a special living wage fund. This fund would remain in place until workers’ wages are at least at the level of a living wage. It would represent a constructive response to the demand voiced by consumers around the world: for H&M to ensure fair employment conditions and a living wage without delay.
Peaceful protests against the new minimum wage in Bangladesh were met with the worst repression in the country in decades. Multiple factories involved in the repression are known to be producing for H&M. The fast fashion giant has not done anywhere near enough to address the low wage levels in the first place, and now, to respond to the repression.
In the wake of public scrutiny over H&M’s failure to meet the commitment that 850,000 workers would be paid a living wage by 2018, H&M commissioned Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) to perform a review of the brand’s living wage work, which was published in December 2018. Clean Clothes Campaign now wants to balance that picture by laying out key shortcomings of the review that are strongly intertwined with the shortcomings of H&M’s roadmap itself, and even more so with the way H&M approached its implementation.
H&M has announced positive new steps toward supply chain transparency that should be followed by other brands. However, much more is needed for consumers to have the kind of information that can actually make a difference when they are shopping for clothes.
This week we wrote to key H&M shareholders, asking them to support the establishment of a special living wage fund for the workers. Here you can read the full letter sent to the CEO’s of Nordea, Folksam, Alecta, Storebrand, Swedbank and AP4, together with the #TurnAroundHM petition handover booklet and our living wage resolution.
“We would like to engage H&M on living wage, as shareholders. Would you like to help?” asked Deborah Lucchetti, the coordinator of Clean Clothes Campaign Italy. She knew that Fondazione Finanza Etica helps NGOs and campaigns by engaging companies as shareholders, and not only as consumers or concerned citizens. That conversation was the beginning of what will soon be a vote on a living wage resolution at the H&M’s shareholder meeting.
We bought a few H&M shares, just so that we could formally propose a living wage fund for the workers. Shareholders will vote on our living wage resolution at the Annual General Meeting taking place on 7 May. This is an opportunity for them to improve millions of lives! Read the resolution and tell the shareholders to do the right thing.
The “Turn Around, H&M!” campaign focused on the specific commitment made to the workers who make H&M clothes. However, H&M does not only sell clothes, and garment workers are not the only ones who live in poverty while H&M rakes in profits. Viet Labor Movement researchers spoke to seven workers at a factory in Vietnam that supplies bowls, soap trays and soap dispensers bearing H&M’s name.
H&M is strongly implicated in the investigation by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) into the garment industry in Ethiopia that reveals “a yawning gap between the brands’ ethical pretentions and the workplace reality for the people sewing their clothes”. H&M has been making claims about amazing progress toward a living wage while sourcing from Ethiopia where workers’ wages “make Bangladesh look like Luxembourg”.
In the latest sustainability report and the accompanying public communication H&M continues to mislead the public about its progress in the area of living wage. H&M’s practice of making empty promises and bogus claims of great achievements cannot go unchallenged. Regardless of how much money and brainpower H&M pours into its corporate communication, it is an undeniable fact that workers at H&M supplier factories are still far from earning living wages.
H&M did not keep the promise to make it possible for 850 000 garment workers to earn a living wage by 2018. Several Nordic banks are among H&M’s largest owners, with shares worth of over € 1,4 billion. However, the banks have not used their influence to hold H&M accountable for its living wage commitment, a new report by Fair Action and Fair Finance Guide shows.
The ongoing #TurnAroundHM global week of action has shown the growing resentment over H&M’s broken living wage commitment. Workers, activists and consumers in some of H&M’s largest markets and in a number of production countries are holding H&M accountable for the broken commitment that 850,000 workers would start getting paid a living wage by this year.
From Delhi to London, from Washington, DC to Zagreb, with many cities in between, workers and activists are drawing attention to H&M’s broken commitment that 850,000 garment workers would be paid a living wage by this year. Parcel packers at H&M's important European logistic hub Stradella (Italy) denounce poor and precarious working conditions and express solidarity with workers in other parts of H&Ms global supply chain.
Five years have passed since H&M unveiled its living wage road map and promised that 850,000 workers would be paid a living wage by 2018. Yet, workers recently revealed poverty wages and labour rights violations in factories that were covered by that promise. Enough is enough! More than 130,000 people have already made a clear and urgent demand: You need help to put this in practice, H&M? Below is a list of key measures and specific demands to get you going in the right direction, right away!
While focusing on the poverty wages in garment factories, this campaign has also engaged with workers and unions in other parts of H&M's vast supply chain. One example of the growing transnational solidarity among the exploited workers is this open letter that a logistics worker submitted for the #TurnAroundHM global week of action.
A Closer Look at H&M‘s Figures on wages at its supplier Factories. H&M publishes information on average wages in some of its supplier factories. But what do these figures tell us about the possibility for workers who make H&M clothes to have a decent life? How close are the reported wages in H&M’s supply chain to a living wage? We took a closer look at the wages in H&M’s supply chain based on H&M’s own data.
Today’s hunger strike in Bangladesh should serve as a stark reminder that the announced minimum wage of 8,000 taka will leave many workers and their families hungry and unable to cover other basic living cost. While H&M keeps referring to the requirement that their suppliers pay at least the national minimum wage and stressing the importance of workers participation in determining wage levels, it has still not publicly supported the Bangladeshi unions' minimum wage demand, just as it has not stayed true to the specific living wage commitment made in 2013.
Our research findings about poverty wages for workers making H&M clothes are echoing around the world this week. In Europe, people are especially shocked about one of the researched countries being a European Union member. The main disappointment, however, lies in the fact that despite a clear and widely publicized commitment – that workers would be paid a wage that supports a decent life by 2018 – H&M has not made this happen.
Research findings published today reveal that many workers making H&M’s clothes live below the poverty line -- despite H&M’s promise of a living wage by 2018, and despite the brand’s recent deceptive claims of progress. Interviewed workers in India and Turkey earn about a third and in Cambodia less than one-half of the estimated living wage. In Bulgaria interviewed workers’ salary at H&M’s “gold supplier” is not even 10 per cent of what would be required for workers and their families to have decent lives.
H&M is busy expanding production around the globe, searching for the cheapest possible labor - despite their promises to the contrary. A piece this month exposed labor abuses at the Hawassa Industrial Park in Ethiopia, H&M’s latest sourcing location.
Clean Clothes Campaign has urged H&M to show leadership on the way toward living wages for garment workers in Bangladesh who are due to finally have their minimum wage revised. Despite paying lip service to the need for a minimum wage increase, H&M has so far failed to publicly support workers’ demands.
In a letter to H&M's Head of Sustainability the "Turn Around, H&M!" campaigners pointed out the different ways in which the response to CCC's public letter sent in March was unsatisfactory. Campaigners once again called for concrete data and expressed the expectation that H&M will yet live up to its commitment that 850,000 workers would be paid a living wage this year.
A global coalition of trade unions, worker rights and human rights organizations released a groundbreaking research report documenting gender based violence in H&M garment supply chain. The report points out that H&M’s failure to ensure garment workers are paid a living wage exposes women workers to risks of violence in numerous ways. The coalition calls on H&M take immediate action to end the violence and harassment that women garment workers are forced to endure daily.
Clean Clothes Campaign national coalitions and other activists supported the #TurnAroundHM day of action in Stockholm in various ways. Media in a number of countries received press releases. CCC representatives gave interviews to local journalists, amplified the campaign on social media, and organized street actions such as the ones in Helsinki and Berlin.
Activists brought the demand for H&M to fulfil the living wage commitment to Stockholm, the company's home base. The annual shareholders meeting took place there today, and #TurnAroundHM campaigners made sure that shareholders were aware of the broad support for the campaign's central demand. Over 75,000 people joined the campaign in just three days
As H&M’s shareholders are gathering in Stockholm for their annual meeting (AGM), the growing international coalition behind the “Turn Around, H&M!” campaign is drawing attention to the fact that H&M is on course to let down hundreds of thousands of workers who have been waiting for a living wage.
Clean Clothes Campaign is dedicating this year’s International Labour Day to the hundreds of thousands of workers who produce garments for H&M and are waiting for the brand to stop turning its back on the commitment that living wages would become a reality by 2018. Our “Turn Around, H&M!” campaign will continue throughout the year, aiming to stop the brand from heading in the direction of letting down 850,000 workers who are waiting to start receiving living wages – as H&M vowed they would by this year.