Oxfam campaign brings living wages a step closer for garment workers as fashion brands make commitments

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, Women article written on the 08 Mar 2022

On International Women’s Day, the anti-poverty and human rights organisation Oxfam Australia is celebrating commitments made and real steps taken by women’s fashion brands Lorna Jane and Modibodi on the journey towards ensuring the payment of a living wage to garment workers.

As part of its What She Makes campaign, Oxfam is today putting the spotlight on Lorna Jane and Modibodi – both brands that actively promote their values around women’s health.

The organisation is calling on them to ensure the women who make their clothes, not just those who wear them, are empowered to live healthy lives through the payment of a living wage. This means enough money is earned to cover basic essentials for a family including food, housing, healthcare, clothing, transport, education and some money for unexpected events.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said the vast majority of garment workers were women.

“In China, more than 70% of garment workers are women, in Bangladesh the share is 80%, and in Cambodia as high as 90%. Like many other female-dominated industries, these jobs offer lower wages and the link between these poor wages and poor health outcomes is clear.

“For example, previous Oxfam research found that more than half of the garment workers in Bangladesh and Vietnam cannot afford proper medical treatment when they are sick. More than three quarters of workers in Bangladesh are unable to take sick leave when needed. In Vietnam, that figure is 94%.”

Ms Morgain welcomed Modibodi to the campaign, and commended them for their genuine concern for the workers in their supply chain.

“The period underwear brand has now taken three important steps towards paying a living wage.

“Firstly, they have made a commitment towards paying a living wage. To meet this commitment, this year they will develop a roadmap to separating labour costs in negotiations with suppliers, and paying living wages. They’ve also committed to publishing their factory list next year and we eagerly await this critical step towards transparency. We congratulate Modibodi on their rapid progress.

“In November, we also welcomed Lorna Jane to our campaign through the launch of our Naughty or Nice list – where they were named as Naughty. However, since then, we have worked with them to progress their position, and late yesterday, Lorna Jane committed to publishing its factory list on its website early on International Women’s Day.

“By taking this important step towards transparency, Lorna Jane has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring the payment of living wages. Knowing where factories are located means any claims they make can be independently verified, helping us ensure workers’ wellbeing and health.

“We look forward to working further with these two Australian brands to support them to genuinely live their values when it comes to women’s health and wellbeing by ensuring the garment workers in their supply chain are paid a living wage.

“Along with our supporters, we want women everywhere to be empowered to be healthy. And living wages equal healthy workers.”

Check out Oxfam’s Company Tracker to see what action various brands have taken so far.

For interviews, contact Lily Partland on 0418 118 687 / lilyp@oxfam.org.au