Action Update: Number 28

Action Update: Number 28

Find our what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.

In this issue you will find information on Bangladeshi garment workers’ ongoing struggle for fair pay in the face of violent government repression, as well as an update on the future of the Accord and our concerns over worker safety. We share our findings on the dismal state of pay in the global garment industry with the launch of our new report: Tailored Wages UK 2019, and update you on our campaign for H&M to keep its promise and pay garment workers a living wage. This issue also takes a look at fast fashion and the environmental crisis, and contains information on how you can get involved with our campaigns and join our activist army.

Read it here: Action Update: Number 28

Primark responds on Bangladesh repression

Primark responds on Bangladesh repression

Back in May, thousands of activists signed our petition to Primark to ask what action they are taking for the hundreds of Bangladeshi workers sacked or arrested during violent protests this January. Primark have now come back with the details.


It’s good news.
Primark have suspended new orders at all the factories affected and have teams doing weekly visits to selected sites to ensure changes are made. Factories have to provide evidence on 8 points before they can start receiving new orders, including showing that charges have been dropped and compensation paid to workers affected.

You asked Primark to call on suppliers to reinstate all the workers who lost their jobs for peacefully exercising their rights. Primark say they have secured compensation for all the workers dismissed and, in a few cases, got them reinstated. We are waiting for the full figures.


M&S now need to step up
We have also been lobbying other UK brands who had suppliers involved in the repression. Next have investigated their suppliers and called on them to reinstate workers, compensate those dismissed and for charges to be dropped. Again, we want to see the final outcomes but Next is also stepping up. M&S however have only responded with generic information and little detail. You can check the progress on all brands involved in the repression using this tracker.

Thanks again for your work. Standing in solidarity with workers and calling on brands to act really does make a difference.

Is your fave brand complicit in the crackdown?

You can check what action brands have taken in response to the recent repression of workers’ rights in Bangladesh by using this tracker. 

Action Update: Winter 2018

Action Update: Winter 2018

Find our what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.


This issue looks at the potential for devastation as the Bangladesh Transition Accord, protecting the safety of Bangladeshi garment workers, is in peril due to a High Court injunction to remove it, jeopardising the safety of millions of workers. Remaining in Bangladesh, we look at the desperate action workers are taking, including going on hunger strike, to demand an increase to the minimum wage. There is information on the UK’s home-grown sweatshop factories in Leicester, as well as our Black Friday action in the face of H&M’s failed promise to pay a living wage. We also celebrate the success of our Invisible Threads fundraising Art Auction, which raised an amazing £2,800.

Read it here: Action Update Winter 2018

Workers reveal poverty wages and labour law violations in H&M’s supply chain

Workers reveal poverty wages and labour law violations in H&M’s supply chain

H&M supplier factory in Bulgaria (Photo: Georgi Sharov)

Research findings published this week around the world reveal that many workers making H&M’s clothes live below the poverty line – despite H&M’s promise of a living wage by 2018, and despite the brand’s recent deceptive claims of progress. Interviewed workers in India and Turkey earn about a third and in Cambodia less than one-half of the estimated living wage. In Bulgaria, workers interviewed at H&M’s “gold supplier” were shown to be paid salaries that were not even 10 percent of the amount required for workers and their families to have decent lives.

Research findings are published in “H&M: fair living wages were promised, poverty wages are the reality“. They include the fact that one of the world’s largest retailers, reporting USD 2.6 billion profits, has workers in the supply chain who are forced to work excessive hours for sheer survival.

Working overtime for sheer survival

“The wages are so low that we have to work overtime just to cover our basic needs,” said a worker at an H&M “gold supplier” factory in India.

Overtime hours in three out of the six researched factories often exceed the legal maximum and working on Sundays is frequent in all four countries included in the research: Bulgaria, Turkey, Cambodia and India. In Bulgaria, workers reported that they have to work overtime just to earn the statutory minimum wage.

“You enter the factory at 8 in the morning, but you never know when you will be able to leave. Sometimes we go home at 4 AM,” said one worker making H&M clothes at Koush Moda, an H&M “gold supplier” factory in Bulgaria.

Workplace faintings

Poor wages, excessive overtime and the additional burden of household work result in malnutrition, fatigue and workplace faintings.

Every third Indian woman and two thirds of interviewees in Cambodia – who work at factories listed as H&M’s “platinum suppliers” – had fainted at work. A worker in India reported that fellow workers had to take her to the hospital because she had hit a machine and was bleeding internally after she had fainted at work.

Workers in Bulgaria also saw workplace faintings as an everyday work occurrence. Moreover, a worker in Bulgaria said that, “A fellow worker was fired after she fainted.”

Research background

Interviews with workers and desk research were conducted between March and June 2018 within the “Turn Around, H&M!” campaign coordinated by Clean Clothes Campaign, which Labour Behind the Label is a member of. 

The campaign was launched in May 2018, as it became evident that H&M was not meeting its commitment to ensure that all “…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.” In 2013 when this commitment was made, these workers made 60% of H&M’s products, sourced from ‘strategic and preferred suppliers’ which H&M grades as gold or platinum. This definition was used as the key criterion for the selection of factories for this research.

H&M’s words cannot be trusted

“We knew that H&M had not met its commitment by the beginning of this year, but some of the concrete findings about wages and related working conditions in H&M supplier factories still came as a shock. H&M needs to take action immediately to stop the scandal of poverty wages and workers’ rights violations,” said Bettina Musiolek of Clean Clothes Campaign who coordinated this research.

“H&M released a boastful statement last week that was a clear preemptive strike after we had sent them the findings we are publishing today. Their claims of progress are based on deception about the goals they set in 2013. Essentially, they are trying to erase 850,000 workers who were promised a living wage by 2018 from collective memory. We will not let that happen,” said Neva Nahtigal of Clean Clothes Campaign’s International Office.

“It is now clearer than ever that H&M’s words cannot be trusted. Instead of empty public relations talk, we want to see transparent changes in the real wages of workers in H&M’s supply chain. As we have written to the company’s top ranks before, they need to publish a road map with time-bound, measurable wage level increase targets, detailing how H&M will change their purchasing practices to make sure workers get a living wage,“ said Judy Gearhart, executive director at ILRF.

Consumers demand action

The “Turn Around, H&M!” campaign includes a petition hosted by WeMove.EU that demands living wages and fair employment conditions in the whole H&M supply chain.

“H&M cannot keep pretending that things are on track while workers are forced to work overtime and still live in poverty. These research findings will undoubtedly mobilize thousands of concerned citizens and conscious consumers who care about respect for human rights and sustainable production and consumption,” said Virginia Lopez of WeMove.EU.

The petition has already drawn over 100,000 signatures.

View the whole report here. There is also a shorter summary of findings here

H&M’s original commitment, some of the publicity it received, and the way H&M is trying to spin its way out of it are documented in “Lost and found: H&M’s living wage roadmap”.

Action Update: Summer 2018

Action Update: Summer 2018

Find our what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.


This issue marks five years since the devastating Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, and this issue takes a look at which brands have yet to sign the Transition Accord for Bangladeshi workers safety, and marks campaign success as Next, Sainsburys and Debenhams sign up to protect their workers. We are celebrating a transparency campaign win as fast-fashion clothing giant Primark caves to pressure and discloses their supplier list. There is information on H&M’s forgotten promise to pay a living wage to their garment workers, a message to the England football team as they return home from a strong World Cup performance, and a celebration for the acquittal of Cambodian workers rights activist Tola Moeun.

Read it here: Action Update Summer 2018

Report: Adidas and Nike pay record-breaking amounts to footballers, but deny decent wages to women stitching their shirts

Report: Adidas and Nike pay record-breaking amounts to footballers, but deny decent wages to women stitching their shirts

Report: Adidas and Nike pay record-breaking amounts to footballers, but deny decent wages to women stitching their shirts

While millions of people are getting ready to cheer their favorite teams during the Football World Cup, a report by Éthique sur l’étiquette and Clean Clothes Campaign, ‘Foul Play’, reveals that adidas and Nike, major sponsors of the global event, pay poverty wages to the thousands of women in their supply chain that sew the football shirts and shoes of players and supporters.

Download the report here >>

Published June 2018.