LIVING WAGES JOURNEY

The Cotton On Group is committed to the journey towards paying a living wage.

A ‘living wage’ is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet the basic needs of himself/herself and his/her family, including some discretionary income. This should be earned during standard working hours.

Before partnering with a supplier, we ensure that they understand how to adhere to our 14 Rules To Trade, which covers important issues like wages, working conditions and environmental practices. We have an audit and corrective action program to ensure that minimum wages are paid and we have a zero tolerance approach to any identified breaches

The concept of a Living Wage is a complex one and we recognise that individually our impact may be limited; that without buy-in from major players globally the realisation of living wages for all will not be timely or sustainable.

Since 2016, the Group has conducted researched to understand the take home pay of workers in our supply chain for each region from where we source.

In light of this research, the Group reviewed and strengthened our Ethical Sourcing Audit Program to place focus on wage related findings in conjunction with our supply chain partners. We continue to remain close to workers regarding wages and working conditions through management of a confidential hot line and independent worker interviews.

Since 2016, we have been actively working to identify improvements in responsible purchasing and sourcing practices to facilitate improved conditions and wages.

Our suppliers, some of which have been working with the business for over 20 years, are a part of our global family and integral to our business and as such are aligned to our values and purpose to make a positive difference in people’s lives. With this in mind, we partner with NGOs to communicate to suppliers that living wages are part of our commitment to improve working conditions in the supply chain.

Although there is currently no global solution to the challenge of realising living wages for all, we are working to develop the tools and support necessary for the successful transition from minimum wages to living wages.

Unfortunately paying higher prices to suppliers for product will not guarantee that workers will receive a higher wage. We believe that meaningful and sustainable increases to wages for workers can only be achieved through collaborative agreements between employee representatives, employers and Government representatives.

We know we have a responsibility to be part of the solution however we need to collaborate with other brands, to work with employers, workers and Governments who ultimately determine wages and conditions for factory workers. Negotiations that impact at an industry level will have a far reaching effect on creating sustainable wage growth for workers.

In May 2018 we became a proud member of Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT). The Group is committed to working with fellow signatories towards the establishment of industry wide collective bargaining to create positive change to the way wages and working conditions are set.

ACT is a ground-breaking initiative, bringing together Global Brands and IndustriALL Global Union to develop innovative strategies needed to bring about the successful transition from minimum wages to living wages.

The members of ACT are joining forces as we actively seek to create long-term solutions to foster positive change to the way wages and working conditions are set. Importantly, the Group has committed to improving broad purchasing practices:

The Group has committed to include wages as itemised costs, fair terms of payment, better planning and forecasting, to undertake training on responsible sourcing and buying and to practice responsible exit strategies from suppliers.

The Group have set a target for the end of 2023 to embed the ACT Purchasing Practices Commitments in collaboration with our supplier partners.  Delivering on this will support the industry to move towards paying a living wage.

In 2019, we are focusing on internal training of the ACT approach, assessment of our purchasing practices, benchmarking to best practices and identifying priorities for improved operations within the Group.

These activities will contribute to the development of a 5 year implementation roadmap with key milestones and a framework to track and record progress.

We will continue to share updates on the Group’s journey to paying living wages.

To learn more about ACT visit their website here.

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