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Cold Facts: H&M garments produced in miserable working conditions in Cambodia

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6 November, 2012Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts), an investigative Swedish TV show on 24 October, exposed poor working and living conditions under which H&M, one of the leading fashion brand’s garment products are produced.

An investigative Swedish TV show “Cold Facts” throws a number questions to the leading fashion garment brand H&M on its commitment to social responsibility. H&M claims that it is a leader, among its competitors and in the industry, in taking care of social responsibility.

However, the living and working conditions of Cambodian workers producing for H&M do not confirm the claim. The TV show exposes the miserable working conditions of Cambodian workers with the visuals of living spaces and interviews of workers. On the current wages workers are not even able to meet the basic needs and struggle to make ends meet.

H&M’s code of conduct says it is a must for its suppliers to pay the statutory minimum wages or the wage established through collective bargaining. However, it does not ask its suppliers to pay a living wage to their workers that would enable them to take care of their basic needs and live with dignity. In recent times a large number of workers in Cambodian factories have fainted due to overtime work, lack of sleep and malnutrition. Campaigners say it is directly linked to poor wages.

In response to the issues raised in the Kalla Fakta TV show, H&M stated that it has been taking positive views towards increasing the wages in its supplier factories. It is also working in partnership with other brands and lobbying at the political level for higher minimum wages. In Bangladesh during the recent visit Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M urged “the Bangladeshi government to consider an annual review of the local minimum wage that takes national inflation and the consumer price index into consideration”. Currently H&M is working in collaboration with IF Metall, one of the largest trade unions in Sweden and IndustriALL’s affiliate, to introduce a project in Cambodia to improve the dialogue between employers and employees.