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Egedeniz Textile’s Living Wage Project

Driving the provision of a living wage from the producer perspective

Egedeniz Textile’s Living Wage Project graphic



The challenge

The majority of initiatives around living wages tend to be spearheaded by multinational brands in response to international or national pressure, with producers and manufacturers subsequently affected by such initiatives and occasionally brought in as partners as collaborations unfold.

While there is widespread agreement that cross-industry, collaborative efforts are necessary for systemic change when it comes to living wages, it is also important to highlight opportunities for producers to jointly lead initiatives around this issue, as such efforts can be deeply transformative in enhancing the lives of workers and their families.

The response

One such example of a producer-buyer partnership is the Living Wage Project of Egedeniz Textile, the first certified organic textile company in Turkey and a medium-sized producer supplying to brands in the United States, Japan and Western Europe.

In partnership with Swedish children’s wear brand Mini Rodini and the Fair Wear Foundation, Egedeniz launched the Living Wage Project in June 2016 after deciding as an employer to prioritize the provision of a living wage to its workers.

Key aspects of the initiative

In the first two years of the Living Wage project, Egedeniz has:

  1. Carried out a cost of living survey with its workers across three wage groups and cross-referenced the results with government data and analysis, with support from the Fair Wear Foundation.

  2. Engaged with its buyer Mini Rodini on the survey findings, working with the brand to calculate an initial premium (an additional €0.18 per garment) that resulted in an average 14% wage increase on the lowest monthly salary among the three wage groups covered by the survey.

“The most important part of this project has been the relationships between all the steps in the supply chain. From the brand side, supplier relations are increasing positively. From the supplier side, it’s really important to believe in your role in the partnership with a buyer. If your working conditions will change simply based on the brand, then there are risks of huge negative impacts for the workers. You need to believe in and own your role in the sustainability of the business and in the partnerships involved.”

Mümin Can Eker, Egedeniz Textile

 

“It’s our goal to have living wages being paid in all of our suppliers by 2021. If you’re working full-time, you should be making enough to meet your basic needs and then have some discretionary income.

As an industry, we can be creative in how we support this – for example, we’re a part of the Fair Wear Foundation’s living wage ‘incubator’ where brands are coming together to discuss living wage projects and how to make them work in practical ways.

A key lesson from our work in this area is that you need everyone on board, from the finance team to the buyers themselves and beyond. Ensuring broad buy-in across the brand helps ensure the success of the project.”

Karin Iseman, Mini Rodini

 

  1. Facilitated dialogues and awareness-raising across the three wage groups to ensure understanding of the program and how the wage increases are set.

  2. Began approaching additional buyers to join the program in an effort to enhance the sustainability of the project over time.

  3. Conducted an initial evaluation survey among its employees, assessing workers’ knowledge about the Living Wage Project, their experiences throughout the implementation of the project, how they are using the additional wages, and what their general opinions are concerning the initiative. Overall feedback to date has been positive, reflecting workers’ clear understanding of how the initiative is carried out and demonstrating positive impacts in terms of the ability of workers to meet their and their families’ basic needs.

“This project has [made] a big contribution to our family. I would like to thank Egedeniz and Mini Rodini for this support. I hope this will continue. I am sure all families who [are benefiting] from this project are thinking [the] same as me.”

Yasemin Taskaya, Egedeniz Textile factory worker

 

“You can see the change in the eyes of workers when you walk through the sewing line. We’re stopped and the workers say thanks. It can be seen as such a small payment, but it’s such an important thing to these workers. It’s increased their loyalty and motivation – they feel like a valued part of the business and we’re seeing clear improvements in the quality of the work and worker recruitment and retention. We’re also hearing positive feedback from worker representatives and we can see the relationship-building directly on the production line.”

Ozgu Cubukcuoglu, Egedeniz Textile
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