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Oxfam Australia calls on Kmart to increase living wages

Oxfam Australia has backed one of its ambassadors who has released a satire song aimed at highlighting wage discrepancies for women making clothes for Kmart

Oxfam Australia has thrown their support behind comedian and ambassador Sammy J for his song and video clip that highlights Kmart worker pay discrepancies.

The foundation called for Kmart to become a national leader in ensuring living wages are met as the women making the clothes struggle to survive in poverty. It was inspired by the What She Makes campaign, which works to support these women.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Officer, Helen Szoke, said the song was a testament to the powerful stories of women and the unacceptable reality of poverty.

“Kmart has been a leader on factory safety and transparency – showing where their clothes are made around the world. The company says it’s committed to living wages and it has joined a global initiative called ACT,” Szoke said.

“But right now workers in Kmart’s supply chain earn poverty wages. It’s time for Kmart to set out its concrete actions towards living wages, with clear timeframes.”

The minimum wage in Bangladesh, where women are making the clothes for Kmart and other Australian brands, is just 39 cents an hour. This is set to increase to 62 cents an hour, but even with this increase workers take home just $128 a month.

Szoke said a living wage will mean that pay earned in a standard week would cover essential needs, including food, housing, healthcare, education and emergencies.

“The Australian fashion industry turned over $24 billion last year – it is grossly unjust that the women who make our clothes remain entrenched in lives of poverty.

“Kmart has taken some great steps in the right direction, but what we need now is for them to go one step closer,” Szoke said. “Kmart must publicly state the actions it will take to help achieve living wages in its supply chain – and the timeframe by which these actions will be implemented.”

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