Ending exploitation and starvation wages in fashion demands bold action, visionary new laws, strong brand accountability, and centering workers voices. PayUp Fashion has developed these 7 Actions with the input of garment workers and experts in labor, law, and grassroots organizing.  (Download PDF version of 7 Actions)

Click through to read each of the 7 Actions

Action 1

Fashion brands and retailers must honor contracts with factories and #PayUp for all orders completed and in production or millions of garment makers will go hungry.

Our Demands for what brands can do:

(a) Brands must publicly commit to pay suppliers for orders placed before the pandemic, including those that were cancelled or paused as a result of coronavirus, in full and without asking for discounts.

(b) To be removed from the PayUp Fashion Brand Tracker, brands and retailers must #PayUp in a timely manner without extending payment terms unless low-cost financing can be offered.

(c) Those emerging from bankruptcy agree to pay for orders placed prior to bankruptcy. Companies that buy bankrupt retailers are required to #PayUp for any outstanding orders.

Action 2
Keep Workers Safe

The fashion industry must protect garment workers’ basic human rights and labor rights at all times. According to the Worker Rights Consortium, millions of garment workers have lost jobs, wages in some nations have fallen 21% on average, and nearly one-in-four have not received legally-mandated pay and severance during the pandemic. Most garment workers toil in countries without a social safety net and far too many still work in factories that are physically unsafe. With many brands returning to profitability by the end of 2020, we demand that brands #shareyourprofits and do their part to protect fashion’s most essential workers.

Our Demands for what brands can do:

(a) Support a Severance Guarantee Fund. While strengthening national social safety schemes is necessary, brands must fill in the gaps in benefits for garment workers in the meantime. We demand that brands pay #TenCentsMore per garment to the Severance Guarantee Fund. In alignment with the Clean Clothes Campaign network, PayUp Fashion calls on brands to protect laid-off garment workers by paying into a binding social safety net fund that kicks in when workers experience severance theft. #10centsmore 

(b) Get Direct Relief to Workers. Brands should also provide and push for direct financial relief to garment workers for income lost during the pandemic. This can be done either through brands’ own channels and foundations, through International Financial Institutions, or through international relief efforts such as the ILO Call to Action and the USAID Memorandum of Understanding. Brands must contribute or work through relief efforts and foundations to release an amount equivalent to 1% of their 2020 net revenue. Meeting this part of the demand is not a replacement for contributing to the Severance Guarantee Fund.

(c) Protect Democracy, Human Rights, and Freedom of Association. The fashion industry must uphold fundamental human and worker rights. Brands’ purchasing practices are often instrumental in either upholding or suppressing basic rights.

In Myanmar, brands must urge their suppliers to support workers’ rights to protest and participate in the civil disobedience movement against the military coup. Brands must halt orders from factories that support the military regime.

In China, brands must stop all sourcing of cotton from the Uyghur region and endorse the End Uyghur Forced Labour Call to Action.

Any brand found limiting the freedom of association or failing to support collective bargaining rights or other human rights of garment workers in their factories will automatically be ineligible for movement on Action 2 of the PayUp Fashion Brand Tracker.

(d) Protect and Expand the Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Safety. We are calling on all brands that are signatories to the original Accord to sign on to a new agreement that extends and expands the benefits of a binding agreement on workplace and building safety. 

Action 3
Go Transparent

Without transparency, raising standards and sustainability in fashion will remain illusive and human and labor rights abuses will persist under the cloak of darkness and secrecy. While some brands have moved towards publishing their supplier list, this is just a first step towards true transparency. Brands and retailers will not immediately commit to providing annual data on where their clothes are made, but will also reveal how much workers are paid and treated in an easily accessible and public format. #showme

Our Demands for what brands can do:

(a) Factory list: Brands must disclose a list of cut and sew factories in the manufacturing phase of their supply chain, in alignment with the Transparency Pledge. Ultimately, brands should disclose additional levels of subcontractors, including textile mills and the farms where their cotton, wool, leather and other natural materials come from.

(b) Wages to factory workers: Disclose the wages of the lowest-earning workers at each factory, in accordance with the Fashion Checker’s demands to brands.

(c) Findings from factory social audits and corrective actions: Share audit and remediation reports publicly and make findings available to garment workers in audited factories.

Action 4
Give Workers Center Stage

There will be no more brand-led and brand-funded conversations about worker rights. Brands and retailers, along with all major coalitions, organizations, and conferences shaping the future of fashion must ensure at least 50% representation of women worker voices. #workersfirst

Our Demands for what brands can do:

Worker representation must extend to the governance structures of multi-stakeholder initiatives like Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), Better Work buyers forums, amfori, SEDEX, Fair Labor Association, FairWear Foundation, as well as major conferences and events that shape the ethical and sustainable fashion agenda, such as the BSR Conference, Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and WEAR.

Action 5
Sign Enforceable Contracts

Unenforceable agreements and voluntary codes of conduct written by brands and imposed on suppliers protect retailer and brand executives and shareholder interests while pushing risk onto already vulnerable workers. We need enforceable, legally-binding contracts that put #workersfirst and address the power imbalance in fashion that pushes financial risk onto suppliers and thus human rights and labor rights abuses onto workers. We need an enforceable Buyer Codes of Conduct inserted into purcahse order contracts that outline responsible brand purchasing practices.

Our Demands for what brands can do:

Supplier Codes of Conduct, which are non-binding and lack an effective role for worker representation, push all responsibility onto factories and are ineffective at protecting workers. Garment workers need binding agreements between brands, manufacturers, and unions, with clear and timebound results. Under such agreements, mechanisms must be in place for workers to hold retailers and brands accountable. Enforceable contracts must center workers as beneficiaries and include the following binding and enforceable provisions:

(a) Pro-worker payment terms: The fashion industry favors brands and retailers and operates on risk and debt that is borne by factories and in turn by workers. It is standard industry practice to not pay factories for 60, 90 to 120 days after order shipment, with factories bearing the raw material and labor costs. Due to a power imbalance and a culture of fear, suppliers did not seek legal recourse when brands evoked dubious force majeure contract clauses and cancelled orders in the COVID-19 era. Going forward we need to go back to irrevocable letters of credit, so that banks guarantee a buyer’s obligations to a manufacturer. Moreover, factories should no longer fund brand and retailers cash flow. Payment terms will include a percentage paid to suppliers upon signing to purchase raw materials, and the remainder should be paid no later than 30 days after shipment.

(b) Humane production planning and delivery schedules: Retailers and brands will work in partnership with factories on better forecasting, production planning and lead time to assure a humane pace of work for workers.

(c) Responsible transitions: Contracts will include responsible exit terms, including advance warning to factories and the payment of severance to workers. Brands, retailers and manufacturers will set public targets for the upskilling and promotion of female workers in the wake of automation and industry contraction.




Action 6
End Starvation Wages

Garment workers make rock-bottom wages and are on the brink of starvation and homelessness, while brands shore up millions for shareholders and executives. Studies confirm that brands cause poverty wages by paying low prices to factories. Companies must publicly commit to paying prices that lift workers out of poverty. #onedollarmore

Our Demands for what brands can do:

Resilience built into the fashion sourcing system will prevent workers from falling through the cracks in the first place. The future of fashion must include living wages: wages that are high enough for garment workers to meet basic needs for themselves and their families and establish savings. The #PayUp movement stands in solidarity with other labor rights groups who’ve been advocating and working towards a living wage for garment workers for years.

Action 7
Help Pass Laws

A quarter-century of voluntary efforts to reform the fashion industry have been ineffective. Brands and retailers must support rather than thwart the work of citizens and government to reform corporate power, labor laws, and trade deals.

Our Demands for what brands can do:

Brands and retailers will support rather than thwart legal reforms to both corporate structures and supply chain due diligence. Laws in buying and supplying countries must establish the legal liability of companies for human rights violations in their supply chains and ensure that supply chain workers have access to effective remedy. These reforms include:

(a) Legal reforms in buying and supplying countries that hold brands and retailers responsible for human rights violations and wage theft in their supply chains. Examples include mandatory human rights due diligence introduced in the EU and California’s Garment Worker Protection Act proposed in 2021.

(b) Establish a regulatory body to regulate brand or “buyer” purchasing practices in their supply chains. Ensure that the largest garment retailers’ are no longer able to apply abusive purchasing practices on their suppliers, but instead must respect principles of fair dealing in their relationships with suppliers, treat their suppliers lawfully, and cease to impose unilateral changes to contracts on suppliers.

(c) Reforming bankruptcy protocols to protect garment workers when suppliers are forced out of business.

(d) Reforming government bailouts to include garment and supply chain worker protections. The current system where brands shore up their own balance sheets and rely on public monies for bailouts without consideration for human rights must be corrected.

Examples include: California’s Garment Worker Protection Act, the French Duty of Vigilance Law, Germany’s proposed bill for supply chain due diligence, Indonesia’s Unemployment Scheme, Vietnam’s ratification of Collective Bargaining and proposed EU Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence legislation.


Ashila Dandeniya, Stand Up Lanka; Nazma Akter, AWAJ Foundation; Ayesha Barenblat, Remake; Elizabeth L. Cline, journalist / author