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ASDA: Poverty Guaranteed

Asda has a lamentable record on paying poverty-level wages to workers in poor countries who make its clothes and is trailing behind its competitors such as M&S and Primark, a new report by ActionAid revealed today.

An internal Asda survey, obtained by ActionAid, shows that even in Bangladesh where Asda is trying to improve  wages, employees in its factories are earning just a quarter of the amount they need to properly feed, clothe and educate their families.  ActionAid’s report, Asda: Poverty Guaranteed, says Asda could easily turn this around by paying workers an extra 2p on each £4 t-shirt it buys from India.  ActionAid has launched a new campaign in an attempt to get Asda to pay its workers a living wage.

 

Dominic Eagleton, ActionAid policy advisor, said:

“Asda claims to be a family friendly supermarket but there’s a dark side to its operations. Families are being kept in poverty because Asda’s wages are so low. Women who make Asda’s clothes in factories in India, Bangladesh and other Asian countries struggle to feed their families despite working long hours in deplorable conditions.

“The scandal is that it doesn’t have to be like this. Our new calculations show that if the supermarket paid just 2p extra on every £4 t-shirt it buys from India, it would double workers’ wages and take them out of poverty.”

Asda could afford to pay a living wage without increasing prices for the consumer. Asda is the UK arm of Wal-Mart, which makes £45m profits per day, and could easily afford the cost of paying its own workers a living wage.

The charity said that whilst Asda has plans to become the UK’s number one cheap fashion retailer it was falling behind its rivals on the high street in terms of improving conditions for poor workers.

Eagleton said: “Asda claims it is improving workers pay but its efforts are limited, or are simply gimmicks, such as installing webcams so customers can monitor factory conditions. But the truth is Asda is falling behind its competitors such as Marks and Spencer and Next. Even Primark’s plans to improve workers’ pay are better than Asda’s.

“Asda’s clothes might be on trend, but the way it treats workers is totally last season.”

ActionAid is part of a new coalition demanding a living wage for garment workers across the whole Asian continent, known as the Asia Floor Wage. By uniting across borders around a common wage level, garment workers in Asia are challenging the power of multinational fashion retailers.

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