ActionAid targets Asda over low pay

Asda is under attack from ActionAid over accusationsof low pay for garment workers in Asia.

Activist from the charity are slipping messages about worker’s low pay into garments from Asda’s George clothing range being sold across the UK.

The charity is targeting Asda’s clothing as part of a campaign to improve the working conditions of factory workers in Asia.

ActionAid says Asda is “dragging its heels” and wants the Wal-Mart owned supermarket to match to pledges made by its rivals, including Marks & Spencer, which has promised to pay all South Asian workers a living wage by 2015.

Customers that find one of the messages are asked to send a message to Asda CEO Andy Clarke to demand an improvement in working conditions. They can also trade it in for an ActionAid t-shirt and be entered into a draw to win Fair Trade clothing.

ActionAid says the camapaign will run until Asda change its policies.

ActionAid campaigner Emily Armistead, says: “ASDA aren’t the family-friendly business they make themselves out to be. There’s a dark side to this company which is the way they treat the workers who actually make the clothes they sell.

“Asda wants to be the UK’s number one cheap fashion retailer but it’s falling behind in the way it treats its workers. Its competitors are making a real effort to improve pay and conditions but Asda is resorting to PR gimmicks rather than making real progress.”

The charity claims that paying workers a better wage would cost Asda an additional two pence on a £4 t-shirt.

Asda says this calculation is “flawed” because “the idea that charging 2p more per garment would mean workers earned 2p more is disingenuous. The situation is served best by intelligent action that improves factory conditions in a structured and sustainable way.”

The supermarket says it has already improved the wages of its workers in Bangladesh by 15% though a pilot project and hopes to roll out the improvements to all its suppliers.

An Asda spokesperson says: “We know that its actions, not words, that will help alleviate poverty. We remain ready and willing to take Action Aid with us to Bangladesh so they can then see first hand the positive impact we’re having there.”

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