Swedish TV documentary program Kalla Fakta has revealed that H&M is not paying its Cambodian garment workers a living wage. The miminum wage for these workers is currently $61 per month, which is 25% of what constitutes a living wage in the country.
H&M has replied in a statement that they are at the “forefront” of fighting for better minimum wages for workers in countries that manufacture its clothes. “We want a permanent change, negotiated between workers and employers,” H&M said. “This should be done by collective agreement that all workers in a country could benefit from.”
As the Netherlands-based labor union alliance The Clean Clothes Campaign said, H&M could do more. Jeroen Merk, a research coordinator at the Clean Clothes Campaing, says that "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. This is unacceptable."
As a large, global retailer H&M has the power to ensure that the factories they source from pay its workers a decent wage. It is disingenous of them to increase profits by employing factories from countries with abhorrently low or no minimum wage regulations, and then blame the laws or lack thereof. Empty rhetoric to appease shoppers is not enough. Let them know that they cannot get off the hook simply by declaring they "want more permanent change." Paying workers a decent wage and supporting better regulations in the country are not mutually exclusive. They should be doing both. They surely can afford to do so.
As an H&M shopper, I want to know that the clothes I am wearing are not the product of human exploitation. Trade unions in Cambodia have recently asked for the minimum wage to be raised to $131 per month, and they are looking for H&M’s public support for the initiative. Sign this petition to let H&M know that you will not shop at their stores until they rectify the situation: pay their garment workers in Cambodia and other countries a living wage and support the Cambodian trade unions' request for raising the minimum wage to $131 per month.