Living wage initiatives

Living Wage is a key issue for the selection of campaigning organisations and labour rights specialists listed here.

  • ACT - initiative on living wages  ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) is an initiative between international brands & retailers, manufacturers, and trade unions to address the issue of living wages in the textile and garment supply chain. While ACT is not an ETI-run programme, many of the brands participating are ETI members and we are closely engaged with the initiative as part of our wider work on living wages.
  • ActionAid As part of its work on Corporate Accountability, ActionAid has developed a  costing model for clothing brands and retailers. “This briefing presents a model for use by garment buying companies to cost a living wage into the overall amount they pay to suppliers. The model also aims to improve compliance with ‘wage defaulting’ issues that are endemic in the garment industry, such as payment below the legal minimum wage, and under-payment of overtime.”
  • Asia Floor Wage Union leaders and labour activists in Asia came together to explore a union-based Asian strategy for the global garment industry. The discussions began in India and moved to other Asian countries. Wage emerged as the key issue for strategising; and the concept of an Asia Floor Wage began to be explored. The scope of the discussion was then expanded by organizing meetings in different places in North America, United States and Europe with the help of several partners. This process took place between 2005 and 2007. In 2007, the First International Planning Meeting was held in South Asia. Discussions took place on how to move forward, given that we had achieved consensus on the concept itself. The international participants came to an agreement on the goals, overall direction, content, structure, and timeline for an Asia Floor Wage campaign. What began as an Asia-based process has now expanded to become an international alliance for Asia Floor Wage.
  • Church Action on Poverty Living wage is part of Church Action on Poverty's three-year campaign to ‘Close the Gap’. It is calling for four key changes including fair pay (the others are fair taxes, fair prices and a fair say). As well as trying to shift the public mood so that excessive pay gaps are unacceptable, the campaign is encouraging employers to commit to paying a Living Wage.
  • Clean Clothes Campaign The Clean Clothes Campaign is an alliance of organisations in 15 European countries. Members include trade unions and NGOs covering a broad spectrum of perspectives and interests, such as women’s rights, consumer advocacy and poverty reduction. They rely on a partner network of more than 200 organisations and unions in garment-producing countries to identify local problems and objectives, and to help develop campaign strategies to support workers in achieving their goals. They cooperate extensively with similar labour rights campaigns in the United States, Canada, and Australia. They are currently conducting a Wage Survey to gather a snapshot of fashion company and retailer progress towards the payment of a living wage. The report will be published mid-February 2014 
  • Ergon Associates have done a lot of research on LW and contributed to at least two of the studies mentioned below. Ergon were instrumental in developing the concept of ‘wage ladders’ – a visual way of representing different levels of wages defined by governments and international organisations such as poverty lines, extreme poverty lines, minimum wage level, average national wage level etc.
  • European Conference on Living Wages On 25-26 November 2013, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands (MinBuZa), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Round Table Codes hosted the European Conference on Living Wages. Conference participants were from companies, trade unions, NGOs, multi-stakeholder initiatives and European government. They gave their support to a Declaration of Intent and an Action Plan on Living Wages.  The conference report and speakers’ presentations are also available on the website. Further meetings and initiatives are planned.
  • Ethical Tea Partnership ETP is a non-commercial alliance of international tea companies who “share a vision of a thriving tea industry that is socially just and environmentally sustainable”. It was formed in 1997 when a number of major tea companies took the decision to work together to improve the social and environmental conditions in their supply chains. Its members range from large international brands to smaller independently-owned labels. Together they account for more than 50 brands, which sell in over 100 countries.  (see below for ETP and Oxfam’s report on wages in the tea sector)
  • Fairfood International is an Amsterdam-based international non-profit organisation advocating for a sustainable and fair global food system. Their mission is to improve the socio-economic conditions of vulnerable people in the global food system and the sustainable use of natural resources. They work to influence food companies and governments to solve issues affecting farmers, workers, consumers and the environment within food supply chains. A Working Group on Insufficient Income and Income Insecurity is currently working on an organisation-wide approach towards the topic of living wages for workers in the agricultural industry.
  • Fairtrade International is the organisation that coordinates Fairtrade labelling at an international level. From They set international Fairtrade standards, organise support for producers around the world, develop global Fairtrade strategy, and promote trade justice internationally. Recently they released a new standard for hired labour that addresses the issue of living wages. They are also part of the SAI and ISEAL initiatives to establish a common methodology for calculating living wages for certification bodies.

  • Fair Labor Association FLA is a collaborative effort of companies, colleges and universities, and civil society organizations. It seeks to create lasting solutions to abusive labor practices by offering tools and resources to companies, delivering training to factory workers and management, conducting due diligence through independent assessments, and advocating for greater accountability and transparency from companies, manufacturers, factories and others involved in global supply chains.
  • Fair Wage Network The Fair Wage Network has been created on the initiative of Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead and Auret van Heerden. The decision to set up the Fair Wage Network was taken on the occasion of the first Fair Wage conference, organized by the FLA (see above) in Washington on October 26, 2009. The aim of the network is to regroup all the actors involved along the supply chain and present in the CSR arena who would be ready to commit themselves to work to promote better wage practices. The idea is to set up an interactive and dynamic process, involving NGOs, managers, workers’ representatives and researchers.
  • Fair Wear Foundation Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is a Dutch-based independent, non-profit organisation that works with companies and factories to improve labour conditions for garment workers. FWF’s 80 member companies represent over 120 brands, and are based in seven European countries; member products are sold in over 20,000 retail outlets in more than 80 countries around the world. FWF is active in 15 production countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.
  • Labour Behind the Label Labour Behind the Label is a campaign that works to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. It coordinates the UK platform of the Clean Clothes Campaign. LBL publishes an annual report asking the UK's top high street retailers what they are doing to ensure the workers who make their clothes are paid a living wage and grading the companies accordingly (see below for latest report).
  • Living Wage Campaign In 2001 London Citizens, an independent community alliance, launched the Living Wage campaign. The Living Wage Foundation encourages employers in the UK to pay the Living Wage – an hourly rate set independently and updated annually by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK – on a voluntary basis. The Living Wage enjoys cross party support in the UK, with public backing from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.  The Mayor of London's office hosts a Living Wage Unit which monitors the (higher) level needed for a living wage in London. The London Living Wage is currently calculated as £8.55 per hour. The UK Living Wage for outside of London is currently £7.45 per hour.
  • Social Accountability International (SAI) is a non-governmental, multi-stakeholder organisation whose mission is to advance the human rights of workers around the world. The concept of a living wage is central to the SA8000 standard and it is currently engaged in work to mainstream a groundbreaking methodology to advance the payment of the living wage. This work seeks to address three key issues hampering progress on living wages; the lack of a globally accepted definition, the lack of transparent data on calculations of living wages accessible by stakeholders willing to work toward implementation of a living wage and lack of sufficient insights in the differences and complementarity between living wages and national minimum wages and collective bargained wages.  The work is being undertaken in partnership with Dr. Richard Anker, former Senior Economist at the ILO, and Fairtrade International, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), GoodWeave, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance (SAN/RA), Social Accountability International (SAI) and UTZ Certified. The goal is to work on the methodology, promotion and implementation of a living wage for the workers that are protected by our respective labour standards. The long term goal and shared mission of our six organizations is to see improvements in workers' conditions, including wage levels, in the farms, factories and supply chains participating in our respective certification systems and beyond.

  • TUC ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ CampaignThe campaign focuses on four factors: a properly enforced minimum wage, higher minimum wages for employers who can afford to pay more, increased commitment to the living wage, and a crackdown on excessive executive pay.
  • Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent labour rights monitoring organisation, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe. Their purpose is to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who make apparel and other products. The WRC conducts independent, in-depth investigations; issues public reports on factories producing for major brands; and aids workers at these factories in their efforts to end labour abuses and defend their workplace rights. WRC has established a living wage calculation method and conducting research into wages of garment workers supplying USA.
  • World Banana Forum  The World Banana Forum is a permanent space of assembly for participants representing the global banana supply-chain to promote open dialogue on challenges facing the banana industry. The initiative brings together producers, their organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, exporter groups, fresh produce companies, retailers, traders, public agencies, governments, research institutions and civil society organizations. The Mission of the World Banana Forum is to inspire collaboration between stakeholders that produces pragmatic outcomes for the betterment of the banana industry; and, to achieve an industry-wide consensus of best practices regarding workplace issues, gender equity, environmental impact, sustainable production and economic issues. (see below for WBF’s living wage methodology baseline).

ETI does not endorse any of the above organisations, nor vouch for the accuracy of information on their sites.