Swedish fast fashion giant H&M is understood to have told its suppliers in Bangladesh that it would be upping its unit prices following the recently announced minimum wage increase for garment workers in the region.
The company reportedly said that it would “absorb the increase in wages” in its product prices, becoming one of the first retailers operating in the country to do so, as stated by Apparel Insider, which initially published this news.
Protests erupted in Bangladesh towards the end of last month as garment workers took to the streets demanding a near-tripling of their wages.
The vast majority of employees, many working for the suppliers of global fashion retailers, were on monthly wages starting at 8,300 taka (60 pounds), leading to unrest as many mobilised on the streets surrounding the capital Dhaka.
Will other retailers follow suit?
Despite the Bangladeshi government appearing to have partially listened to the demands, increasing the wage by 51 percent to 12,500 taka (90 pounds), a number of workers’ rights organisations are calling for a reconsideration of the decision.
A similar request has also been put forward by the US government, which has urged Bangladesh to revisit the minimum wage and address the economic pressures faced by workers.
It comes following the death of a woman during the garment worker protests, Anjuara Khatun, who was killed by police, which has also seen the US and other initiatives further demand for the protections of workers’ rights.
H&M’s move to up its unit prices is a step in the right direction, despite the increase only supporting the current minimum wage. It is yet to become clear if other retailers follow suit.
This article was edited Nov 27, 14:25, to include a response from H&M to FashionUnited.
In a statement, Nikolas Odinius, the company's PR & communications representative, said: "We have a well-diversified supply chain and many years of experience in sourcing goods from different regions. We support the development of fair and decent wages in our supply chain and work to improve working conditions for workers through the way we do business.
"We strive to be a fair business partner and can confirm that we have committed our business partners in Bangladesh to continue our responsible sourcing practices following the introduction of the new minimum wage. We have informed our suppliers that we recognise the importance of our procurement practices to pave the way for better wages, better planning and forecasting and favourable payment terms. When pricing our offerings to customers, we always ensure that we offer the best combination of fashion, quality, price and sustainability in every market we operate in."