Sialkot, Pakistan living wage significantly higher than new government poverty line wage, minimum wage, and prevailing wages

Sports balls, Pakistan © Transfair Germany, Fairtrade International
Sports balls, Pakistan © Transfair Germany, Fairtrade International
A new living wage benchmark report from the Global Living Wage Coalition found a gap from around 50% to over 100% on key wage comparisons in Sialkot, Pakistan.

This week the Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC) issued two new living wage benchmarks, this time for Pakistan. The overall goal of the GLWC is to improve wage levels in certified supply chains and beyond. Even using conservative estimates, the authors of this report found that urban living wages in Sialkot more than double the government’s new poverty line, converted to wages, and are 50% more than current minimum wages. This value above minimum wage translates into a wage gap for prevailing wages as well, which would need to increase by 50 per cent to meet the Rs. 20,224 living wage estimate for a typical family of 5 with 1.5 full time workers. Furthermore, for rural Sialkot, prevailing wages would need to increase by over a 100 per cent to meet the Rs. 16,993 living wage estimate for a typical family of 5.5 in rural Sialkot areas with 1.6 full time workers. Although this living wage report focuses on football manufacturing, the findings are geographically specific rather than industry specific with the industry used to provide context on current conditions and prevailing wages.  

Sialkot is Pakistan’s manufacturing powerhouse for export-quality goods, making the findings particularly significant. The area is prolific in sports goods manufacturing, dominating the world market for hand-stitched balls, with a whopping 70% of all sports balls made here. Famously, these balls were also used in the FIFA World Cup held in Brazil in 2014. Importantly, ISEAL full member Fairtrade International certifies footballs in Sialkot, hence driving a need for a living wage estimate. Fairtrade International can then use the benchmark as guidance in their certification criteria and can be proactive in working with stakeholders like producers, brands, labour groups and civil society to collaboratively move toward a living wage. In the past, the sports industry in Pakistan has suffered from human rights issues such as child labour, which it has moved to address, but decent wages and standard of living for workers has received less attention, making this benchmark all the more important.

The GLWC is an initiative made up of seven sustainability standards, Fairtrade InternationalForest Stewardship Council (FSC), GoodWeave International, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance (SAN/RA), UTZ, and Social Accountability International (SAI), that are working together to improve wage levels in certified supply chains and beyond. In the coming years the GLWC will lead to the strengthening of living wage requirements in codes and criteria but the joint effort is focused on a great deal more than the content of standards, since compliance with a certification programme will not raise wages on its own. In partnership with experts Richard and Martha Anker, the GLWC has advanced a widely accepted and transparent methodology for calculating living wage developed by the Anker team, and is developing benchmarks globally that are publically available to all interested in working toward a living wage for workers. This methodology has also now been published and is available from Edward Elgar publishing. The GLWC will be using all of this work to equip a range of organisations to increase dialogue and take stronger action to increase wages.  The GLWC specifically supports industry-wide collective bargaining efforts as an ideal forum for these estimates to provide impartial information for negotiation.

The GLWC has also released benchmark reports for Brazil, Kenya rural and non metropolitan urban, the Dominican Republic, Malawi, Bangladesh, India, and South Africa. To access all these reports and learn more about the GLWC please visit www.iseal.org/livingwage

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To access the full Pakistan living wage benchmark report, click here.

To view an infographic on living wage in urban Pakistan, click here.

To view an infographic on living wage in rural Pakistan, click here.