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Good Clothes, Fair Pay

New citizens’ initiative calls for legislation on living wages in global fashion industry
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Female Indian textile workers sewing clothes with protective face mask on production line

The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) ‘Good Clothes, Fair Pay’ has launched to demand legislation on living wages for the people who make our clothes.

The year-long campaign needs at least one million signatures from EU citizens to call on the European Commission to introduce laws on this important issue.

The initiative is led by a coalition of citizens, and supported by NGOs, policymakers and experts on living wages.

Action on living wages

The ECI demands EU laws requiring companies selling garments, textiles and footwear in the EU to take action on living wages in their supply chains.

Brands and retailers would be legally required to assess wages in their own supply chains, put in place plans to close the gap between actual and living wages and publicly disclose their progress.

The ECI was initiated by Kirsten Kossen, Senior advisor, human rights, at ASN Bank and member of the ECI’s Citizens’ Committee. Click here to add your name.

An exploitative model

Right now, most of the people who make our clothes earn poverty wages while brands continue to make huge profits.

As the largest importer of clothes in the world and one the biggest fashion consumer markets – with over 260 billion euro in sales expected in 20223 – the EU must address this unfair and exploitative model.

‘For too long, brands have promised to do the right thing. They mostly haven’t. We cannot wait any longer for voluntary measures. As EU citizens, we have the power to change this and give garment workers a decent pay for their hard day’s work. For real, industry-wide change, fashion companies need to be held accountable.’

Senior advisor, human rights, at ASN Bank

The reality of poverty wages

Most of the people who make our clothes do not earn a living wage. Garment workers,
mostly women, earn on average 45% less than they need to provide for themselves and their

Despite working gruelling hours, most struggle to put healthy food on the table, live in adequate housing, access healthcare or even send their children to school.

Current legal minimum wages in the industry, set by governments in garment-producing countries, are simply not enough to live on.

A humanitarian crisis

Poverty wages are endemic to the global garment industry. They affect garment workers everywhere.

The fashion industry employs tens of millions of people globally and 1.5 million in the EU5 – most of whom are not paid living wages.

The situation has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of workers were left unpaid for their work when major brands cancelled orders for goods already produced.

This has led to a severe humanitarian crisis with workers left without a social safety net, struggling to pay for food, healthcare and accommodation.

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