There are different concepts of living wages and the proposed figures vary considerably. There is a broad consensus though that current wages in most garment producing countries are below any meaningful understanding of living wage. ACT is working with the following definition of a living wage:


A living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet the basic needs of himself/herself and his/her family, including some discretionary income. This should be earned during legal working hour limits (i.e. without overtime)

Setting a benchmark for a living wage is one thing. At ACT, we are interested in how to achieve progress towards living wages. ACT members abide by the principle that employers and workers and their representatives should reach agreement on a living wage through collective bargaining at industry level. This means that the negotiated wage will differ according to national contexts, and will reflect the needs of workers and employers, rather than any particular external benchmarks.

ACT global brands and retailers are working with their manufacturers and IndustriALL is working with its affiliated unions in target countries to support the negotiation of substantial and continuous wage growth. To reach living wages ACT aims to deliver a mechanism that is achievable, functional, scalable, as well as legally recognised and enforceable.

“Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.”

UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23:(3)


ACT will support negotiation between national representatives of manufacturers, such as employer organisations, and trade unions, towards collective bargaining agreements at industry level.

Such agreements are legally binding and enforceable for the signatory parties, and can be extended to the whole industry within that country, and as such covering every worker within it.

ACT programs will be based on a consultative process to build support among manufacturers, trade unions and governments. They will include capacity-building to support the negotiations between manufacturers and trade unions as well as cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and development cooperation organisations to provide the necessary technical assistance.

ACT members have also importantly committed to ensure that their respective purchasing practices facilitate the payment of a living wage. ACT will develop mechanisms to link purchasing practices to collective bargaining at industry level, enabling manufacturers to meet the terms of the agreements on wages and working conditions that are negotiated.

At the same time, ACT will work with manufacturers at country level to develop and implement improvements to manufacturing standards and systems, such as efficient human resources and wage management systems, stimulating accelerated growth in productivity and industrial upgrading, recognising also that business security and commitment to production countries and manufacturers are a key enabler for paying living wages.