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STOCKHOLM – H&M does not care about garment worker wages and its sustainability reporting lacks transparency, according to a damning assessment by the Clean Clothes Campaign. The fast fashion chain launched its annual sustainability report this week.

The Clean Clothes Campaign claims H&M has been “steadily diluting” a commitment made in 2013 to pay living wages to workers in its supply chain. Said the CCC: “The Sustainability Report is disappointing but it does not come as a surprise, considering that H&M has been steadily rephrasing and diluting the commitment made in 2013. Back then the Swedish clothing retailer announced:

H&M’s strategic suppliers should have pay structures in place to pay a fair living wage by 2018. By then, this will reach around 850,000 textile workers.’

“By now, that commitment has been watered down to the aim of supplier factories representing 50 per cent of product volume using the Fair Wage method. Whether or not this actually leads to the workers being paid a living wage by 2018 is not addressed at all in the report.”

David Hachfeld of Public Eye (CCC Switzerland) claims H&M has become “less transparent” since 2013, a sentiment this writer has considerable sympathy with.

Adds the CCC: “Indeed, data on average wages at supplier factories is completely absent from the report. There is no information on wage development at supplier factories per country – presented in previous sustainability reports – or any wage development data for the 227 factories using the Fair Wage method. There is therefore no way to establish whether garment workers actually earn more as a result of this programme.”

The CCC also claims H&M’s sustainability report provides no updates on how the retailer will adapt its purchasing practices to enable higher wages.

To address transparency issues, the CCC claims H&M needs to publish information on Living Wage pilot projects it has carried out, as well as defining a living wage.

Adds the CCC: “Without such concrete data H&M’s sustainability reporting is nothing but a string of empty words and an attempt to divert attention from the fact that they have not fulfilled their clear 2013 commitment to living wages actually being paid to workers by this year.”

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