The Issues: Living Wages

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Key Takeaways
  • A living wage is defined as a human right but millions working in the textile sector are paid at poverty-level rates. 
  • Legal minimum wages in several top garment-producing countries are too low to ensure workers have a basic standard of living.
  • Labour costs are only a fraction of the final retail price, so wage raises could be absorbed into costings without hitting the consumer too hard. 

From cotton fields to factory floors, the fashion and textile industry has been in the spotlight in recent years for unacceptable working conditions, including paying very low, poverty-level wages. 

A living wage ought to be sufficient to meet basic needs and afford a decent standard of living, for the worker and her or his family, for a standard working week (typically 48 hours). This includes enough for food, water, housing, sanitation, transport, clothing and other essential needs, includin…