One response by brands and retailers to the calls for garment workers to be paid a living wage has been to implement productivity projects, the idea being that increased wages can be paid for through savings made by productivity gains. Whilst brands and retailers are claiming wins for buyers, suppliers and workers, there is concern by labour rights organisations that these projects do not lead to a living wage and that they could in fact lead to negative impacts on workers.
Companies, consultancies, donors and international organizations publish reports to show that workers have positively benefited from productivity projects through increased wages and reduced working hours. Sometimes the data shows wages have increased by high percentages. Workers that have been moved from line production systems to team based cells responsible for creating whole products report that work is increasingly stressful. They are expected to be aware of what is holding up production and to find the solutions. As targets are set for the whole team, workers report that workers effectively take on the role of supervisors and put each other under pressure to work harder.