The wage issue in the clothing manufacturing industry is a complex structural challenge and requires the co-operation of a number of different stakeholders. H&M and other major apparel retailers have previously encouraged the Bangladeshi government to improve minimum wages for the country’s textile workers, and in 2010 an increase was granted; nevertheless, lasting improvements in working conditions necessitate a continuous, well-functioning dialogue.
In summer 2011 H&M arranged a conference in Dhaka at which suppliers, labour organisations, government representatives, international trade unions and volunteer groups met to discuss ways to improve communication between workers and employers. As a next step, H&M has arranged for external experts to train five selected suppliers in the creation of workers’ committees via democratic elections, and in how these committees negotiate with management, in order to enable workers to improve their working conditions. The system will undergo testing in 2012 and 2013, and is planned to be rolled out to additional suppliers thereafter.