Zeeman calls for a minimum wage that is a living wage.

Zeeman calls for a minimum wage that is a living wageWe feel the urge to speak out after the announcement of the Bangladeshi government last Tuesday, 8 November 2023. The new minimum wage for garment workers was set at 12,500 taka (around 114 US dollars) from December, instead of the previous 8,000 taka (68 US dollars). Although this seems like a huge increase, the new set minimum wage is nothing close to a living wage. We join Fair Wear in supporting the trade unions in their united demand for a minimum wage for the ready-made garment sector in line with a living wage for workers and their families.

Since 2019 we have been working on the Zeeman Living Wage Roadmap, which currently consists of five living wage pilots at two main suppliers in Bangladesh, one in India, one in Pakistan and one in Turkey. This currently represents 12% of the total Zeeman buying value for garments and textiles from Asia and Turkey where we pay a living wage premium for our share in production at these long-term partnerships.

We believe that the best way to establish higher wages is by raising the level of minimum wages, as this establishes a level playing field and has a huge impact on all workers in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the announced minimum wage increase doesn't close the living wage gap. Therefore, we call onto all stakeholders involved to set a minimum wage that is in line with a living wage.

We acknowledge that Zeeman and other brands and retailers sourcing in Bangladesh have a role to play. Therefore, we would like to stress the importance of meaningful stakeholder engagement and we are committed to implementing responsible purchasing practices. We will continue to work on implementing our living wage roadmap at supplier level, which aims to start five new living wage pilots at suppliers every year, enabling living wages for our share of production for at least 25% of our purchase value in 2024 and 50% of our purchase value in 2027.