Lowest Wage Challenge
We are thrilled to join the Lowest Wage Challenge by publishing the lowest wages of our production team in Uganda because we believe that everyone at Sseko deserves to earn a dignified income at every level of our business.
What is the Lowest Wage Challenge?
The #lowestwagechallenge is a campaign to bring awareness and accountability to the fact that less than 2% of garment workers around the world earn a living wage. The hope is to inspire accountability and action by asking fashion brands to publish the lowest wage of the garment workers in their supply chain. (You can learn more about The Lowest Wage Challenge and the brands who spearheaded it here!)
Why we joined this challenge:
Here at Sseko, since day one, we’ve been committed to building a business that creates dignity and opportunity for every person involved. It’s built into our DNA as a company. The Sseko factory in Uganda is a beautiful and safe place for production team members and every production partner we work with is carefully evaluated to ensure that each artisan they employ is fairly compensated and treated with dignity and respect in the workplace.
We align ourselves and operate according to the principles of Fair Trade. Fair Trade entails that artisans earn a fair wage, which is foundational and important. But it doesn’t stop there! Fair Trade encompasses a series of principles and commitments that go beyond making sure individual artisans are paid a fair wage for their work.
Sseko Designs is a verified member of the Fair Trade Federation. The principles of Fair Trade, as defined by The Fair Trade Federation are:
- Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers
- Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships
- Build Capacity
- Promote Fair Trade
- Pay Promptly and Fairly
- Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions
- Ensure the Rights of Children
- Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
- Respect Cultural Identity
While Sseko has always prioritized these principles, we find it valuable and important to have the transparency and accountability that comes from being a verified member of a third-party organization who is subject matter experts in Fair Trade. To be a verified member of the Fair Trade Federation, Sseko regularly undergoes an extensive screening and audit process that evaluates our entire company (not just a single product line, artisan group, or factory) as a whole. The application process for Fair Trade Federation evaluates the trade, manufacturing, and sourcing practices of our company and suppliers and requires full transparency and contact information for our entire supply chain to ensure that, among many other things, artisans are paid fairly and treated with dignity and respect.
That being said, we know that the vast minority of companies are or have plans to become Fair Trade verified (we’re hoping to be a part of changing that!). We believe that campaigns and initiatives like #thelowestwagechallenge are a fantastic way to raise awareness and are a great first step in increasing corporate accountability and a pathway for consumers to voice their desires to see brands commit to basic dignity for those in their supply chain. And given the current state, we have a lot of work to do: Only 2% of the people who make the clothing we wear earn a living wage in exchange for their labor. That means that nearly everyone who makes our clothing is unable to meet their most basic needs. And consumers continue to demand faster and cheaper, putting this vulnerable population (garment workers) at greater and greater risk.
And 75% of the people who are making clothing all over the world are women, meaning women bear the brunt of this injustice.
While it is not the only measure of fairness, earning a living wage is critical to lifting people, families, and communities out of poverty. And while knowing the lowest wage in a supply chain is not comprehensive, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
We are proud to join The Lowest Wage campaign and movement with the hopes of inspiring greater transparency, awareness, and accountability across the fashion industry.
What is a Living Wage?
A living wage is defined as: The adequate income standard needed to cover the living costs of an individual or family. Living wages are published as a range with the lower bound of 25th percentile and upper bound of the 50th percentile of calculated living wages based on the data from the WageIndicator Cost of Living Survey.
How Does Sharing the Lowest Wage Help?
When brands are open to sharing how much the lowest-paid employees earn in their supply chain, they’re committing to transparency and accountability. They’re committing to joining arms with other clothing companies to bring awareness to the growing need for fair and dignified jobs at every level of the business. By sharing the lowest wages with you, brands are bringing consumers into the conversation and inviting them to create more demand for goods produced under fair and equitable employment practices. The Lowest Wage Challenge helps to protect the most vulnerable in our industry’s supply chains.
Sseko’s Lowest Wage
As of January 2021, the lowest wage paid to a member of our production team in Uganda is the equivalent of approximately USD $227 per month.
According to WageIndicator, a leading 3rd party resource on wage information, a living wage in Uganda ranges at the low end from $139 to the high end of $154 a month. According to this assessment, Sseko Uganda LTD pays their lowest-paid employee approximately 55% above the living wage.
By the end of 2021, in addition to publishing the lowest wages in Sseko Uganda (which represents around 40-50% of our production), we intend to publish the lowest wage of our production partners across the globe that account for the majority of the other half of our products. Each of our global partners operates in accordance with Fair-Trade principles and our largest partners are verified members of Fair Trade organizations, just like Sseko! If a partner is not a member of a verified Fair Trade organization we either require another form of a third party audit (such as the SA8000, SEDEX, etc.) or, because certification and verification can be unattainable for smaller artisan partners, we commit to doing in-person visits and audits so we can confirm these organizations are operating authentically in accordance with and towards a fair and dignified production environment.
Now it’s your turn to join The Lowest Wage Movement. Please share with your community that Sseko has accepted the challenge and ask other brands to join!
Visit www.lowestwagechallenge.com, share about the #LowestWageChallenge, and ask your favorite brands to join by posting and commenting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with, “@BrandName What’s your lowest wage? #LowestWageChallenge.”