European parliament committee can bring real change to European garment workers' wages

Almost one million garment workers in seven of the European Union's low wage member states would profit directly from a strong and effective EU minimum wage directive. An additional 1.5 million garment workers in eight other European countries would indirectly benefit from this directive. Already now, the discussion on the directive is encouraging national debates in these countries on adequate minimum wages which would enable a decent living of workers.

Garment workers typically earn only the statutory minimum wage and the statutory minimum wages of potential sourcing countries is an important criterion for the sourcing decisions of fashion brands and retailers. An EU minimum wage directive can set a cross-country standard for higher minimum wages that would also fight the constant relocation threat and wage competition between European countries.

Many European garment workers even earn below the statutory minimum wage

In all 15 investigated European countries, the non-payment of minimum wages is quite widespread in the garment industry. A workers’ human right to a living wage -- a wage allowing for a decent living of the workers and their family -- must be reflected in a minimum wage directive. It should be the aim of minimum wage setting. And costs of decent living must be the binding criteria for the adequacy of a minimum wage. This is still missing in the current proposed directive.

Read here the full statement on the amended proposal of the committee’s rapporteurs as of April 2021.

Read here the formal feedback on the EU Commission’s proposed directive as of December 2020.

Earlies this month Clean Clothes Campaign launched a cross-border living wage benchmark for 15 European countries. Read more about the Europe Floor Wage here.


published 2021-04-29