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Make living wage a reality: Dutch Minister
Nov '13
Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, has urged all stakeholders to work together to make a living wage a reality in developing countries, including Bangladesh.
Addressing the European Conference on Living Wages, in Berlin, Ms. Ploumen said the United Nations recognised a living wage as a human right back in 1948, and two years ago, it was included in the OECD Guidelines.
But even today, hundreds of millions of workers in developing countries still earn less than two dollars a day, she said.
“Following the disaster at the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh earlier this year, I promised to press for structural improvements in the textile industry there,” the Minister said.
“Together with the ILO and other Western countries, the EU, trade unions, the Bangladesh Government, the Bangladeshi clothing industry and Western clothing companies, we have made agreements to increase the safety of factories and improve working conditions,” she added.
She said that the European countries can also make improvements at home, on the side of the supply chain, and at her request, the Dutch textile industry associations have drawn up an action plan.
The associations have also made agreements about living wages – a concept that has already been backed by the largest retailers – and they want to sign longer contracts with suppliers in order to give them some breathing space and security, she informed.
“We are trying to shift the focus from cost to quality. For too long, cut-throat competition has led to poverty wages and dangerous working conditions. We are turning the race to the bottom, which we helped start, into a race to the top. I would like to see more fashion houses and retailers in Europe working together for living wages in the supply chain,” Ms. Ploumen said.
“Competition needs to be based more on the quality of work, including better working conditions and higher wages. Living wages are a key aspect of this,” she added.
Ms. Ploumen said she would do all she can to argue the case of the living wage in all the relevant forums, including the EU, the ILO, the OECD, the UN and the World Trade Organization. She concluded by saying, “Together we can make a living wage a reality.”

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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