By and  on October 6, 2009

LONDON — An Amsterdam-based advocacy group has said it will target Europe’s biggest retailers, including Tesco, Carrefour, Aldi and Lidl, this week as part of an international effort to raise the wages of garment workers in India and the Far East.

The Clean Clothes Campaign said Monday that its partner organizations across Europe planned to call for “an immediate commitment by retailers to take steps to implement the living wage in their garment production supply chains.”

CCC’s efforts are meant to raise awareness for the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a worldwide consortium of trade unions and labor rights activists, which on Wednesday in New Delhi will launch an international campaign calling for a common minimum living wage for Asian and Far Eastern garment industry workers.

The proposed AFW figure for a garment worker’s salary is $475 a month with a 48-hour work week. The AFW maintains that workers in India, for instance, are currently earning just over half that figure. The minimum wage in Bangladesh is 70 cents a day, according to the AFW.

“The Asia Floor Wage Alliance is uniting unions and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] in Asia around a common wage demand,” said Jeroen Merk, a spokesman for the CCC. “It’s a powerful response to industry practices that have kept wages at poverty level and play off workers against each other.”

Merk told WWD the CCC is planning a series of talks and mailers, and is urging consumers to e-mail major retailers via its Web site.

On Monday, the German retailer Lidl and the textile discounter Kik said they were expecting up to 6,000 postcards from CCC, asking them to examine their wage practices. A spokesperson for Carrefour was not immediately available for comment.

In Britain, spokespeople for Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer said they had not yet received any correspondence from the CCC.

A Tesco spokesman stressed the supermarket was a founder member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, an alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organizations that aims to protect the rights of people who make or grow consumer goods worldwide.

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