AIAS Lunch Seminar, 12 May: Maarten van Klaveren - University of Amsterdam, AIAS

Wages in Context in the Garment Industry in Asia

Maarten van Klaveren

Day: Thursday 12 May 2016
Time: 12.15 – 13.15 hrs.
Location: AIAS, 4th floor Gijsbert van Tienhoven building, room 4.09, Roeterstraat 31, 1018 WB
Registration: Please send an email, preferably before Wednesday 11 May, 12.00 hrs. to register.
A sandwich will then be provided.


This report is the result of a study undertaken for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, on behalf of the Asian Living Wage Conference (ALWC) in Pakistan in 2016. The ALWC aims to engage Asian garment-producing countries in the initiatives to implement Living Wages. The report provides overviews on labour law, minimum wage setting and minimum wage levels pertaining to the garment industry in nine Asian countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam); on wage levels of garment workers; on the cost of living and related Living Wage levels in their garment industries, and on the hurdles for realising Living Wages in these countries. The Ministry has asked the WageIndicator Foundation to draft the report because the Foundation has a track record in collecting information about wage levels and cost of living levels for many countries, and because it maintains a global network of experts in the fields of labour law and minimum wages.
The report is a joint effort of the worldwide WageIndicator team. Besides the main author, Maarten van Klaveren, senior researcher at the AIAS, nearly 20 team members contributed. A first chapter details the data collection methods and the findings of the WageIndicator Cost-of-Living Survey. Jointly with an expert survey, that survey was one of the report’s main sources as it was the basis for calculating the Living Wages. Chapter 2 introduces the worldwide garment industry. It treats the internationalisation of garment production; the growth of garment exports from the nine countries (in joint shares in world’s garment exports, from 23% in 1995 to 54% in 2014); and the development of employment in their garment industries, to an estimated total of 16.5 million workers in 2015. An overview of the supply chains of 25 global garment brands covering the nine countries is provided, and hierarchies in these chains are detected.
Next, nine chapters provide country overviews, covering the development and structure of the domestic garment industry; minimum wage legislation; the trade union situation and collective bargaining; compliance; wage levels in context, and the central issue: how to set and attain the Living Wage? A concluding chapter summarizes the opinions of the surveyed experts concerning the hurdles for attaining living wages and the main instruments for bringing living wages closer. It shows the distances between the various wage levels calculated for the nine countries, like those of minimum wages, median garment wages and Living Wages. Lastly, consideration of three issues in debates on the Living Wage is especially recommended. First, it is emphasized that the drive for living wages has great potential for mobilizing female workers. A second issue regards the connection between improved working conditions and decent wages and upgrading the garment industry’s potential for economic survival. A third recommendation points to the importance of collective bargaining in the nine countries, in particular to the advantages conferred by sectoral or multi-employer bargaining.

AIAS lunch Seminar Series in May 2016

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26 May 2016

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Research Group “Employment Relations and Labour Markets”
Faculty of Social Sciences
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