A minimum wage is not the same as a living wage. Living wages is the estimated wage that should cover a person’s basic needs such as food, housing, clothes, healthcare and education, as well as the ability to make some savings. A national minimum wage is a wage that the government sets and does not necessarily cover this.
This is why Mini Rodini is implementing a Living Wage project, where we research living wage estimates in the factories we source from and work out a system to fill in the gaps. The extra money we send goes from our own pocket, and is not transferred onto the end consumer as a price increase. It is taken as an additional mark-up for each piece that is produced. This is because we think the price is ours to pay, in ensuring the people who make our products receive a fair salary.
We first got involved in a living wage project in 2014 in India, on the initiative from another Fair Wear Foundation member brand. We no longer work with this factory, but we initiated our own living wages system in another Indian factory in 2016. This was a factory that we have a long-standing relationship with and it employs around 1000 workers. Even though we only take up 4 % of their production capacity, we pay all workers an additional premium on their normal wages during the time they produce our products.
In 2016 Mini Rodini was asked by Fair Wear Foundation - an independent, non-profit organisation that works to improve conditions for workers in garment factories - to join their new forum for living wages, called the Living Wages Incubator. The members of this forum are European companies working a lot with living wages. We meet to share knowledge and find ways to overcome challenges to advance the projects even further.
In 2017, Mini Rodini extended its living wage project to three more factories in Turkey. This was the first time, as far as we know, that a foreign brand created a budget from its profits in order to provide workers with a living wage bonus in Turkey.
By Autumn 2017, 18% of our products were made by workers receiving a living wage premium. Our target is to implement a system of paying the workers at all our sewing units a living wage instead of the standard minimum wage.