Dutch officials discusses fair wages at Schuttelaar & Partners's Sustainable Textiles Lab 

Thursday, 10 september 2015

Fair living wages for everyone. That was the theme of Solidaridad’s third Sustainable Textile Lab which took place in August in cooperation with a number of major brands and retailers. More than 70 apparel and textile professionals attended the lab, including the senior policy advisor at the Dutch Ministery of Foreign Affairs, Jos Huber.

“The very ambitious target of the Dutch National Action Plan of 120 companies working with living wages in their supply chain by 2020 still needs some steps forward,” Huber said. 

The goal of the Sustainable Textile Labs is to do just that by inspiring and informing, but above all, by encouraging companies to take concrete steps in improving conditions for workers. The lab consisted of presentations and debates in order to share experiences concerning the implementation of fair living wages across the world and discuss possible steps that can be taken.

On the picture: Janet Mensink (Solidaridad), Anne van Lakerveld (Schuttelaar & Partners) and Jolande Sap (Plan van Aanpak Verduurzaming Nederlandse textiel en kledingsector)


Lab participants gained insights from the following organizations who are actively involved with implementing fair living wages:

  • Solidaridad presented the benefits of using a standard methodology called the Fair Wage Method. A pilot project has been started in China with two brands in order to test the effectiveness of this method.
  • H&M introduced the Fair Wage Roadmap which they currently use in their sustainability programmes. Elin Astrom of H&M explained that continual dialogue with factories is key to their success.
  • The Fair Wear Foundation ( FWF) has significantly increased awareness on the subject of living wage in the Netherlands. FWF works with the Fair Wage Ladder and publishes material on their public fair wage portal. 
  • Expresso Fashion has seen real improvements resulting from their cooperation with suppliers. Working toward living wages does not only increase the quality of life for workers, but also benefits the quality of products. For Expresso Fashion, it is not just a best practice, it’s a journey.

Presentations were followed by a lively debate hosted by Gijs Weenink of the Debate Academy. Jolande Sap of the Dutch National Action Plan and Anne van Lakerveld from Schuttelaar & Partners served as panel judges who named three winners for giving practical answers for how to move forward on fair living wages. Jolande Sap cautioned, however, that brands should not lose themselves in all the different methods for living wages, but to be active and join working groups organized by the Dutch National Action Plan.

The Sustainable Textile Labs are hosted several times of year in the Netherlands and are made possible in part by Solidaridad and “Groen Is de Rode Draad”.

If you are passionate about improving the lives of workers around the world, consider taking part in one or more of the opportunities below:

  • Participate in the living wage working group of the Dutch National Action Plan.
  • Join Solidaridad’s masterclass taught by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead, a Ph.D. in labour economics with more than 25 years of experience in global CSR.
  • Visit the Living Wage Portal of the Fair Wage Foundation.
  • Attend the Asian Living Wage Conference (PDF) in Pakistan in 2016.

Would you like to be a part of the next Sustainable Textile Lab? Please contact Caroline Stoop at info@sustainabletextileslab.org

Sustainable Textiles Lab IV: Sourcing from East Africa (Ethiopia) will be held on 10 December 2015.

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