PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz AB is disputing allegations made in a Swedish television documentary broadcast this week claiming the retail giant is not doing enough to ensure that workers producing its garments in Cambodia are paid a fair wage.
The dire conditions faced by garment industry workers worldwide have come under renewed scrutiny after a factory fire in Pakistan last month killed 300 people.
The Swedish program, “Kalla Fakta,” said many factory employees in Cambodia struggle to survive on their salary. The Clean Clothes Campaign, a Netherlands-based alliance of labor unions and nongovernmental organizations, said the minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia is $61 per month, which represents less than 25 percent of a living wage.
“Low wages come at a high cost. Last year, over 2,400 workers passed out in Cambodian factories due to malnutrition as a direct consequence of low salaries. But H&M, one of Cambodia's main buyers, continues to refuse to pay a living wage to its workers,” stated Jeroen Merk of the International Clean Clothes Campaign. RELATED STORY: Forever 21 in Labor Department's Sights >>
H&M said the documentary contained a number of inaccuracies. “The angle in the program Kalla Fakta is that H&M’s competitors are far ahead of H&M when it comes to implementation of a so-called living wage. It is presented as if H&M does not support the living wage in our Code of Conduct. This is not correct,” it said.
“Our code has the same level of ambition when it comes to the wage issue as other companies’ Codes of Conduct; the legal minimum wage is the basic requirement, and with the ambition that one should be able to live off the salary. It is what you do that makes a difference, and when it comes to these issues we are in forefront,” it added.
“We want a permanent change, negotiated between workers and employers. This should be done by collective agreement that all workers in a country could benefit from,” H&M concluded.
The Clean Clothes Campaign said H&M had held a number of high-profile meetings with Cambodian officials to call for a minimum wage, but added that this was not a sufficient response. It called for H&M to issue a public statement of support for trade union demands that the minimum salary be increased to $131, and to build an action plan for paying this amount with suppliers.
“We support the idea of building a respectful dialogue between the trade unions and the employers in Cambodia, but H&M must also play its part,” stated Athit Kong, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union.
“We call upon our Swedish union friends to make sure H&M is brought to the table to negotiate a real agreement with Cambodian and international unions that will improve the conditions for the Cambodian workers,” he said.
"'Dynasty' is all about gowns, the diamonds and the scandal, so it's a bit like the fashion industry. When we come to Cannes it's all about the red carpet dresses too, so it all fit really well," said designer @philippplein78 on the theme of his high-glamour resort 2019 show at his mansion in Cannes. #wwdfashion #cannes (📷: @zefashioninsider)
"I think Spike is such a brilliant director because he holds up a mirror to society and reflects these issues, yet he doesn't shove it down your throat, he doesn't tell you what to think," says @lauraharrier on her latest film @Blackkklansman. Harrier was at the Cannes Film Festival – for the very first time – with @officialspikelee. #wwdeye #cannes (📷: @zefashioninsider)
“I would think to myself, Are you happy? Yes, I’m wildly happy. I go to this studio every day and, in my inside voices, I’m giggling; I’m singing. Yes, it’s a lot of work, it’s a [huge] volume of material. It wouldn’t be for everybody. But I was very happy,” said soap opera star @therealsusanlucci of checking in throughout the years with her career trajectory. Lucci spoke to WWD about her decades-long career, love for pilates, motherhood and her QVC activewear line. Read Bridget Foley’s full piece on Lucci on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: @celestesloman)
@balmain has taken a stand at the #cannes Film Festival, dressing 16 actresses at a press call for the project “Noire N’est Pas Mon Metier,” or “Black Is Not My Profession.” The multimedia project includes a book, photo exhibit and documentary, which aims to expose discrimination in the French and American entertainment industries. “The moment I was asked to participate, I knew it was right for me, and for this brand, to form a part of this moment,” Balmain creative director @olivier_rousteing told WWD. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
"I always feel curious and I feel like there's more to learn. But I think being relevant, feeling relevant, I personally always feel that there's just so much more to know. And maybe that's the key.” — @themarcjacobs #wwdsummits #wwdbeauty (📷: @patrickmacleodphoto )
“The most amazing thing about her is that, regardless of all the things that have happened to her, her spirit is so undaunted by all of it. She is the most cheerful person you will ever meet. She doesn’t see problems, she only sees solutions,” said @ajanaomi_king of activist Ifrah Ahmed, who she plays in a new film “A Girl from Mogadishu.” WWD caught up with King at Cannes — Head to WWD.com to read more about her new role, personal style and how she uses social media for causes like Time’s Up and Black Lives Matter #wwdeye
WWD asked a number designers to share their thoughts on what Meghan Markle’s wedding gown will look like this Saturday. Here, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli sketches his look. #wwdfashion #royalwedding #meghanmarkle