Living wage


According to a 2011 report by O’Rourke Group Partners, a consulting firm based in New York, New Jersey, and Hong Kong, a generic $14 polo shirt sold in Canada and manufactured in Bangladesh costs a retailer only $5.67. To achieve such low numbers, workers receive just 12 cents per shirt, or 2 percent of the wholesale cost. It’s this stark inequity that accounts for Bangladesh’s booming garment industry, which is second only to China’s in terms of exports. The country’s 4 million garment workers, mostly women, are paid as little as $38 per month—a quarter of China’s current minimum wage—to sew clothing for brands and retailers in North America and Europe.

Source Ecouterre

What is a living wage?

“A living wage for any worker should be enough to cover her or his basic needs, and the needs of their family. In the Cambodian garment industry over 80% of workers are women aged 18-35 and many of these have children and families to provide for. With escalating living costs in housing, food, clothing, education, transport and healthcare, the minimum wage simply isn’t enough. In fact, the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculate that a living wage in Cambodia is 283 USD / month. This is over four times the minimum wage.”

Clean Clothes Campaign


Definition (according to ILO Conventions 95 and 131, ILO Recommendations
131 and 135 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 23):

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.

To be more precise, a Living Wage:

  • applies to all workers – there must not be any wage lower than this wage
  • is reached within the standard working week, which is in no case more than 48h
  • is made up of a basic wage before benefits, bonuses or overtime pay
  • covers the basic needs of the worker and his/her family, where a family is 2 adults and 2 children
  • provides some discretionary income, which is at least 10% of the amount needed to cover the basic needs.

You can send a message to Cambodia’s big buyers H&M, Levis, GAP and Zara right now to tell them they must pay a living wage!