Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 13:31 UK

'Living wage' identified for Asia

Textile factory
The group wants firms and suppliers to support the floor wage

Labour Behind the Label, a group that campaigns for garment workers, has calculated a wage it says should be used as a minimum for workers in Asia.

It says that a single Asian "floor wage" would prevent countries competing at the expense of workers.

The floor wage is enough to pay for food, water, clothing, housing, taxes, utilities, healthcare and education.

It has been set at the purchasing equivalent of $475 (£299) a month, well above the countries' minimum wages.

In Bangladesh, for example, the floor wage is more than six times the value of the current minimum wage, while in Sri Lanka it is more than three times.

The other countries involved are China, India, Indonesia and Thailand.

Asia Floor Wage
Country Floor Wage Minimum Wage
Source: Labour Behind the Label
Bangladesh 10,754 taka 1,662 taka
China 1,638.75 yuan 687 yuan
India 6,968.25 rupees 4,238 rupees
Indonesia 1,868,650 rupiah 972,604 rupiah
Sri Lanka 16,705.75 rupees 5,046 rupees
Thailand 7,566.75 baht 4,368 baht

'Out of reach'

The report's author, Anna McMullen, says that it is an ambitious project.

"If it's going to happen it will have to be in all these countries at the same time," she says. "At the moment it seems well out of our reach."

The figure was calculated by asking groups in each country to work out how much it would cost to provide daily meals of 3,000 calories for an adult and 1,500 for a child, as well as non-food costs, for a standard family of two adults and two children.

Labour Behind the Label then took a wage level in the mid-point of those submitted by the countries.

"It's going to shift the focus away from what the living wage is and towards how it can be implemented," Ms McMullen says.

The debate about what would count as a living wage has been a focus for campaigners for some time.

Labour Behind the Label hopes that it will now be able to persuade companies, suppliers and eventually governments to support the floor wage.

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