In many countries, the national minimum wage is below the actual cost of living. And that’s a gap we all can help to mend.
Since 2013, we have been paying our share of living wages for our products at selected Indian suppliers. The living wage program where we pay our share of a living wage covers 7% of the total production volume equal to 40% of the workforce in tier 1. For part of the Indian supply chain, we pay our share of living wages to employees from the raw material stage throughout the supply chain, to the final garment and in 2021 we expanded the program to include a Turkish main supplier.
We began this initiative in support of the notion that everyone who produces a Nudie Jeans product should have a wage they can live on. The approach to working practically with living wages in the supply chain has been discussed and debated in the industry for a long time and we have chosen to have a very local collaboration, directly with our suppliers, and we have not engaged in a trade union or governmental discussions or initiatives in the producing countries. Different stakeholders, including FWF, have verified that payments have reached the workers.
In 2016, we decided to expand our living wage payments to the spinning mill at the same supplier and another sewing facility in India. In 2019, we included the workers in the knitting and processing units as well. Through these actions, we pay our share of living wages to employees through the fairtrade system for the raw material and throughout the supply chain, to the final garment. In 2021 we expanded the program to include a Turkish main supplier and our leather garment supplier in India, now including all Indian main suppliers in the program.
Social Audits & Training
We strive to take responsibility every step of the way, from choosing the most sustainable materials to only working with carefully selected partners, all of whom are required to comply with our Code of Conduct.
Our membership in Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is a key element in ensuring that everyone throughout the production chain works under fair conditions, and their Code of Labor Practice is incorporated into our Code of Conduct. FWF is a third-party non-profit organization that works with brands, factories, and NGOs to verify and improve conditions at suppliers. Nudie Jeans has been a member since 2009. We actively work to improve the working conditions in our supply chain to make sure all suppliers and subcontractors comply with the eight standards of the Code of Labor Practice. FWF performs an annual Brand Performance Check on all its members, which is available to the public online. Nudie Jeans has been ranked in the Leader category for the seventh consecutive years since 2014.
On a regular basis, we conduct social audits and follow-ups at all our production facilities. The audits are made to guarantee that standards are followed and to find where improvements can be made. Our Code of conduct applies to all suppliers and subcontractors involved in our production. It makes no difference to us if our suppliers are located in a high-risk country or a low-risk country.
In 2020, we performed a total of 8 audits, four in India, two in Tunisia, one in Portugal, and one in Germany. The audits carried out in India and Tunisia were conducted by Fair Wear Foundation’s (FWF) audit teams, and the audits in Portugal and Germany were performed by independent consultants. During the year, we also worked on following up on the audit results and non-compliances from the previous year although the work shifted focus from regular audit follow-up to prioritizing COVID-19 follow-up at the suppliers. According to the latest FWF Brand Performance check, which reported on 2019 activities, we monitored 97% of our production units.
In 2021, we initiated a total of nine social audits: one in Italy, one in Türkiye, and seven in Portugal. The audits in Türkiye were performed by Fair Wear Foundation's (FWF) audit team, and the audits in Portugal and Italy were performed by independent consultants, following FWF´s audit methodology. During the year, we also worked on following up the audit results and non-compliances from other reports we received, as well as previous audits from the year before. According to the latest FWF Brand Performance check, which reported on activities in 2020, we monitored 98% of our production units.
The number of worker complaints was, despite the pandemic, low with two complaints from employees at one of the Turkish suppliers. The reports of these complaints are publicly available on the FWF website.
Although auditing is one of the processes that can improve conditions at the factory level, we also see the need for employee education and training to make sustainable improvements. Therefore, for several years, we have involved our suppliers and their employees in the popular FWF Workplace Education Program (WEP). In recent years, suppliers in India, Türkiye, and Tunisia participated in the Fair Wear Foundation’s WEP. Nudie Jeans facilitated and paid for training at the suppliers.