On March 17, FLA published a paper by ASOCIACIÓN SERVICIOS DE PROMOCIÓN LABORAL on social protection for apparel and footwear workers in Central America. The target countries in the study were Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua – which have seen an estimated 20% decrease in employment in this sector over the past three years caused by the financial crisis in the United States and an increased shift of apparel and footwear production to Asian countries.
Most corporate social responsibility work on wages has focused on whether a workplace meets a certain level of compensation, usually the legal minimum wage. But fairness of wages and, crucially, perception of wage fairness, are more complex than that. Even if a factory pays workers the national minimum wage and meets other legal requirements (e.g. pay the legally-required wage on time and in full; pay for the proper number of hours worked) it may nevertheless have unfair wages because of undue disparities in wages within the enterprise or because wages may not reflect worker productivity.
On October 25, 2010, FLA convened a second stakeholder forum on wages in Hong Kong. Titled “Wages Along the Supply Chain: Developments and Responses,” it brought together academics, practitioners, and representatives of international organizations, companies, trade unions, and monitoring organizations to discuss recent wage developments (with emphasis on Asia) and responses to address wage issues.
This post was originally a contribution to the Institute for Human Rights and Business of which I am a member of it’s international advisory board. For more info on IHRB’s work please visit www.institutehrb.org.
The global economic crisis has shaken the manufacturing industry to its core over the last couple of years, and the impact on workers has been palpable around the world.
Authored by Marsha Dickson, PhD
How many young fashion designers graduate and take their first jobs having had the opportunity to visit an apparel factory? As a professor of fashion and apparel studies involved with several different design programs over the last two decades, my educated guess is that “virtually none” have had this experience. This number is even smaller when asked if the apparel factory is in one of the developing countries where over 95% of clothing sold in the United States is manufactured.
On November 23, 2009, FLA held a follow-up roundtable discussion about Malaysian migrant workers in Singapore. Participants focused on issues of migrant workers in four priority areas: recruitment of migrant workers; freedom of movement; retrenchment process; and overtime. The first three priority issues were the same as those highlighted at the August multi-stakeholder roundtable meeting; overtime was added as a new priority discussed by suppliers. For more information about the follow-up roundtable discussion, please download the attached report.
Within global trade, wage practices along the supply chain are characterized by a number of serious problems which have long gone unaddressed and have been further exacerbated by the current global economic crisis. On October 26, 2009, FLA's Stakeholder Forum aimed at enhancing the mobilization of CSR actors on wage issues and improving their ability to address wage issues along the supply chain.
The conference sought to discuss:
On August 5, 2009, FLA and the Malaysian Bar Council held a multi-stakeholder roundtable discussion in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Participants discussed issues surrounding migrant workers in Malaysia and included 37 representatives from international brands, local garment suppliers, and representatives from local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and trade unions.
Break-out sessions allowed attendees to discuss: