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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Responsible buying practices crucial to workers living wages

This year’s Fashion CEO Agenda presents five pivotal opportunities for fashion executives and the industry at large to unlock transformative impact for people and the planet.

Responsible purchasing practices are imperative for fashion companies to support worker rights and ensure fair compensation, including living wages for all, according to a new report by the Global Fashion Agenda, a Copenhagen-based non-profit organization. According to the report “Fashion CEO Agenda 2024′ over the past 15 years, millions of garment workers have been denied legally mandated wages across the globe, totaling an estimated 4 billion pounds.

“Acknowledging the rights and needs of the 300 million people employed globally in the fashion industry is essential for its long-term viability and sustainability,” the report said. It emphasized implementing concrete measures that ensure equity, fair compensation, well-being, and dignity for all workers. The report also advocated for worker representation and rights, such as freedom of association and collective bargaining, especially during crisis moments.

In regions with restricted freedom of association rights, companies should leverage their collective influence alongside local governments, NGOs, and labour organisations to explore parallel mechanisms that empower workers and protect their rights, suggests the report adding that upholding the rights of workers, championing diversity and inclusivity, redefining success metrics, and reshaping growth paradigms are key to enabling profound transformation. It pointed out that persistent economic instability facilitated the rise of authoritarian regimes and precarious work conditions in major textile hubs.

Meanwhile, increased demand for fast-paced, flexible, and low-cost production heightened hostility towards labour unions, the GFA identified. Last year, the fashion industry experienced a wave of layoffs, with redundancies ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent in various brands and corporations, disproportionately affecting sustainability teams—a trend that appears to be continuing into 2024, it said. The report emphasised that when sustainability is properly integrated as a core element of business operations and support functions, it can significantly influence business practices. Additionally, the report highlighted that companies must consider the impact on current garment workers and waste handlers who are newly entering the fashion value chain when transitioning to a circular system.

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