Tiruppur, known as the knitwear capital of India, is home to Continental, a Fair Wear Foundation member company. Mariusz, the CSR manager for Continental, regularly visits Tiruppur and has built a close relationship with his supplier over the years. He is on a mission to improve working conditions at the factories where Continental clothes are made, including ensuring that the workers are paid a living wage.
A living wage is the minimum amount of money needed to meet basic needs such as food, housing, utilities, bus fare, medicine, and education. Sadly, most workers in India do not make a living wage and struggle to support themselves and their families. This can lead to conflicts and even suicide.
To calculate a living wage, different organizations offer benchmarks and numbers, but Mariusz wanted to hear it directly from the workers themselves. He engaged with them to understand their specific needs and made adjustments to ensure they were paid a living wage.
Continental has been producing T-shirts in India since 2007 with a goal of minimizing negative impacts on the environment, workforce, and local economy. They started by regulating excessive overtime and improving health and safety at the workplace, and eventually covered most of the pillars, including a living wage.
This is a crucial step in ensuring that workers in the fashion industry are treated fairly and can support themselves and their families. The fashion industry has a long history of exploiting workers and paying them less than a living wage. It is important for companies like Continental to lead the way and set an example for others to follow.
In conclusion, a living wage is not only a moral obligation but also a necessary step in creating a fair and sustainable fashion industry. Companies like Continental should be applauded for their efforts to ensure that workers are paid a living wage and treated with dignity and respect.