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STOCKHOLM – Swedish fashion giant H&M has responded to claims that it has reneged on a pledge to introduce living wages for workers in its supply chains by reaffirming its commitment to its work on industry-wide collective bargaining. Specifically, the business has outlined its work within ACT (Action Collaboration Transformation), which sees 17 brands and retailers collaborating with the global trade union Industriall.

In a press note, the company said: “Our shared vision is that all textile workers across the entire industry should earn living wages.

“Firstly, all ACT members agree on the need for industry-wide collective bargaining agreements to achieve living wages. It would mean that workers in the garment and textile industry within a country can negotiate their wages under the same conditions, regardless of the factory they work in, and the brands they produce for.

“Secondly, it is important that the brands buying goods from garment and textile suppliers make sure their respective purchasing practices support a living wage. They should enable the suppliers to plan their work to avoid unnecessary peaks and lows.” Editor’s note: our story here highlights research which suggests brands are actually squeezing suppliers harder than ever.

“Thirdly, ACT’s engagement with national governments, local trade unions and employers (the factories) is of great importance. Particularly since a commitment from national actors is essential for necessary changes of legal frameworks as well as negotiations between the parties on the labour market.”

Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at H&M group said: “It is positive that we join forces to find solutions to shared challenges. ACT makes it possible to create lasting change for the whole industry in a way that would not be possible for individual companies acting on their own. This is a complex challenge that should be addressed together, especially since the challenges are the same for the whole industry and since we share suppliers with many others.”

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