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H&M Sets Goals to Improve Working Conditions and Wages

Ethical labor continues to lead H&M’s supply chain initiatives.

After a successful year of supporting garment workers, H&M shared an update on its fair living wage strategy. The update includes new goals for improving wages and working conditions by fortifying the welfare of workers, on-boarding factories and collaborating with stakeholders.

Establishing a good dialogue between employers and employees is critical for better working conditions and wages. One of H&M’s goals is to ensure that factory workers are fairly represented by trade unions. Currently 290 factories participate in H&M’s workplace dialogue and industrial relations programs that take place in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia and India. What’s more, over 370,000 workers are directly covered by democratically elected representation through these programs.

By 2018, H&M aims to have democratically elected worker representatives at suppliers that represent 50 percent of its product volume.

Remedying wage issues is another key goal of H&M. Today, many garment workers don’t know about their benefits, wages and rights. Most wages also fail to take worker’s experience, skills, performance and responsibility into consideration. H&M said it will work to solve these problems by implementing improved wage management systems at its factories in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Turkey.

Today, 140 H&M factories are working toward better wages, while 96 more are expected to execute wage changes in 2017. For next year, H&M plans to have wage improvement systems at suppliers that represent 50 percent of its product volume.

Since working conditions and wages remain an industry-wide problem, H&M is going beyond its supply chain to better fashion in the future.

The retailer is developing close stakeholder collaborations and calling for other brands to share suppliers, so garment workers across the board can receive fair compensation. H&M is currently working with International Labour Organization (ILO) to train management on workplace cooperation, promoting collective bargaining with IndustriAll’s wage initiative ACT (Action, Collaboration Transformation), and furthering its partnership with the Global Framework Agreement to protect garment workers.

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H&M is also making more moves to improve the environment. On Tuesday, the H&M Foundation donated $20.5 million to improve clean water, education and women’s economic empowerment worldwide. The H&M Foundation also renewed its three-year partnerships with WaterAid, UNICEF and CARE. After teaming up with the organizations in 2014, the H&M Foundation has provided more than 100,000 children with education and clean water, while enabling 100,000 women to expand their businesses.

“We’ve seen that our programs can make real change and that makes both the H&M Foundation and our partner organizations very eager to move into the next gear,” H&M Foundation global manager Diana Amini said. “With our insights from the first three years, we are well-equipped to create even more impact together in the years to come.”