A Living Wage = A Human Right

Working alongside garment workers, trade unions, consumers and campaigners, we are calling for those working in the garment industry to be paid a wage they can live on.

A major industry

The garment industry is a major employer across the world. In Asia, for example, over 15 million people work in this industry. With global brands making millions in profits every year, this booming industry has come to rely on, and exploit, the cheap labour of millions of garment workers whose wages fall far short of a living wage.

The right to a living wage: A living wage should be earned in a standard working week (no more than 48 hours) and allow a garment worker to be able to buy food for herself and her family, pay the rent, pay for healthcare, clothing, transportation and education and have a small amount of savings for when something unexpected happens.

The lack of a living wage means that many garment workers are forced to work long hours to earn overtime or bonuses, and they cannot risk refusing work due to unsafe working conditions or taking time off when they are ill. The low wages also mean that workers often have to rely on loans just to make ends meet and have no savings to use if they find themselves out of work or faced with unexpected expenses.

Living Wage breakdown

Identifying a living wage

We believe that all garment workers should be paid a wage they can live on, because having a job should mean being able to support yourself and your family. Calculating a living wage is a vital first step in making a living wage a reality. Clean Clothes Campaign is a member of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance who have calculated a living wage for the region where so many rely on the garment industry to be able to live a decent life. The Asia Floor Wage Alliance has made a clear visual explanation of how a living wage is calculated.

Globally recognised as a basic right

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has defined a living wage as a basic human right under their conventions and recommendations to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 23 (ILO Conventions 95 and 131, ILO Recommendations 131 and 135).

Wages and benefits paid for a standard working should meet at least legal or industry minimum wage standards and always be sufficient to meet basic needs of workers and their families and to provide discretionary income.


A call for change

We are calling for:

  • Clothing brands and companies to set concrete, measurable steps throughout their supply chain to ensure garment workers get paid a living wage.
  • National governments in garment producing countries to make sure minimum wages are set at living wage standards.
  • European governments to implement regulation to ensure companies are responsible for the impact they have on the lives of workers in their supply chain.

Learn more

Workers' stories 

Read about garment workers' daily lives and their dreams. 

Ren Eim has worked in the garment industry for 12 years and her health is suffering because of it.  She suffers from headaches and heavy coughing.  She is afraid of getting sick and having no health insurance to cover her needs which is the reason why she is working as much overtime as her health allows it. 

© Copyright 2013 Steffi Eckelmann

Asia Floor Wage Alliance 

An alliance of trade unions and campaigners that calculated a living wage across Asia. 

The minimum wage in many cases is not even enough to buy food; that is why a living wage is needed

Campaigning for a living wage

Actions in support of the demand for a living wage across the world.

C.CAWDU President Ath Thorn at the May 1st International Labour Day rally in Penom Penh

Living wage in Europe

Many workers in Europe are paid far below a living wage.                                                                                                           

Bulgarian Factory