Achieving living wages for workers in the garment and textile industry is one of the main challenges for trade unions. Currently, wages in the garment and textile industry are not defined by the productivity of the export sector, but by the poverty in the country. Social peace and sustainable economic growth depend on providing living wages to workers in these sectors.
Since the 1990s, the nature of international trade has fundamentally changed. Today, about 80 per cent of world trade takes place in global value chains, which is a way of organizing the production process in which low-productivity-low-skill tasks are typically outsourced to developing countries. Trade unions all over the world face challenges organizing workers along the global supply chains which cut across borders, legislation and trading links.
During the workshop, trade unionists discussed strategies for organizing in the supply chain and campaigning for a living wage. This workshop concluded three years of work on organizing in global supply chains and campaigning for living wages under two projects funded by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). Participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and Turkey compared strategies and evaluated progress in an industry that is seen as synonymous with low wages, long working hours and sub-standard working conditions.