Ethical trading

Trade and business can be important drivers to generate incredible wealth and elevate people out of poverty. However millions of people remain in poverty — why? Because:

  • corporations are not always accountable and don’t always live up to their responsibilities. Under the United Nations Framework for Business and Human Rights, businesses have a responsibility to respect, protect and remedy the human rights of individuals and communities impacted by their operations
  • workers rights are often ignored by corporations because of outsourced supply chains, poor regulatory environments and poor or non-existent enforcement regimes
  • the rules controlling international trade heavily favour rich countries and multinational corporations. These rigged rules and double standards are stifling trade’s potential to lift people out of poverty

Workers’ rights

Workers in developing countries have a raw deal. They’re paid minimal wages that keep them in poverty, and are often forced to work long hours in harsh — often dangerous — conditions. No matter how hard they work, the cannot work their way out of poverty, wages are just too low. While big, powerful brands like Kmart and Just Jeans make huge revenues, the women who make our clothes are struggling to survive on poverty wages. We all buy clothes and so we stand together with the women who make our clothes demanding to know #whatshemakes. It is now time for brands to commit to paying the women who make our clothes a living wage. We ask brands to develop credible, transparent and time-bound plans to map out how they will achieve this goal. A living wage should be earned in a standard work week (no more than 48 hours as a maximum) by a worker and be sufficient to afford a decent standard of living for a worker and their family. Elements of a decent standard of living include food, housing, healthcare, clothing, transportation, utilities, child care, education, other essential needs including some discretionary money and provision for unexpected events. We’re working hard to help ensure that the big Australian brands like Kmart and Big W treat their workers with respect and provide them with safe and fair working conditions, and commit to paying a living wage. Discover more about the work we are doing on workers’ rights.

Corporate accountability

It is important that corporations are held accountable and respect, protect and remedy the human rights of individuals and communities impacted by their operations. Oxfam has created a range of tools to support women and men who are working to hold companies to account, as well as resources to provide companies with guidance on best policy and practice. Learn more about our corporate accountability work.


We’re asking for “fair trade” — trade rules and government and company practices that enable people, including poor people in developing countries, to reach their full potential, while respecting their basic rights. And we’re working closer to home to promote Fairtrade products in Australia. Find out more about our work on trade.


Demand justice for the workers who make your clothes in Bangladesh. Dangerous factory conditions are still commonplace and the minimum wage is one of the lowest in the region.
Switch to Oxfam Fair coffee, tea and chocolate and you’ll ensure farmers receive fair wages and conditions, plus you are contributing to Oxfam’s work to end poverty.