A report released today by the Fair Labor Association demonstrates that garment workers in Bangladesh are earning poverty-level wages, often while relying upon excessive hours of overtime to lift their earnings toward a living wage.
Workers are the ones most exposed and vulnerable when market conditions push companies and suppliers to reduce employment, of either a portion or the entire workforce. Many countries legally mandate payment of severance - typically calculated based on job tenure - when partial or full retrenchments arise, but there is generally no requirement in domestic law to create a fund to ensure that the factory is able to meet its severance liabilities.
On July 24, 2012, the Fair Labor Association Board of Directors adopted a resolution to place Participating Supplier Hey Tekstil Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S. (“Hey Tekstil”) on Special Review.
As outlined in the FLA Charter, an affiliated company may be placed on Special Review if it fails to achieve or maintain compliance with FLA labor standards, and a company’s affiliation status may be terminated if the company does not address the issues prompting Special Review status.
In 2012, the Indonesian government increased minimum wages across the country. These increases range from three to 30 percent, depending on the province, with the most significant change seen in Kota Tangerang and Kabupaten Tangerang: 30.39 percent and 30.93 percent, respectively.
Issues: A 2009 follow-up visit by FLA assessor revealed that a factory producing sports shoes for Nike in India had set an annual limit for bonus qualification at Rs. 3,500. This was well below the legal amount of Rs. 10,000. The factory employed 1,563 people.
Solutions: FLA assessors verified that the bonus qualification was raised to Rs. 10,000 (approximately $200), and a notice was posted to inform workers of the change.
Issues: FLA assessors discovered that pregnant women were working nine hours per day - more than the legal limit - during a 2005 factory visit. Additionally, the factory's on-site crèche, or daycare facility for children, was not functioning.
Representatives of major brands, the Chinese Government, and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) gathered in Beijing on January 8 to discuss a new book examining wage trends at the global level. The book, Fair Wages – Strengthening Corporate Social Responsibility, sheds light on wage inequalities and unfairness facing workers around the world. It was authored by Dr. Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead, professor of corporate social responsibility at Sciences Po in Paris, who is responsible for wage practices at the International Labour Organization (ILO).
On January 3 and 4, 2012, FLA hosted a training session in Shenzhen, China, for accredited monitoring organizations and others wishing to learn more about the Fair Wage Approach developed by Daniel Vaughn-Whitehead of the ILO. During the training, attendees debated the piece rate payment system that is widely used in Chinese factories. This system pays employees per garment produced and is often implemented because it seems transparent and easily understood by both workers and managers.
Issues: During a 2004 factory visit, FLA assessors learned that a facility producing t-shirts and performance apparel for VF Corporation was not accurately compensating all workers for overtime work. Workers were paid $0.63 per hour and, according to law, regular overtime (not on a rest day or weekend) should be paid double ($1.26 per hour). When asked, factory management said they were not aware of the law. The factory employed 1,329 people.
On October 12, 2011, the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights released a report alleging a number of noncompliances at the Style Avenue factory in El Salvador, including harassment or abuse and forced overtime. Two collegiate licensees registered with FLA – Outerstuff and College Kids – were sourcing from the factory at the time of this report. Outerstuff and College Kids commissioned FLA-accredited monitoring organization, GMIES, to investigate the allegations.