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24 Apr 2020

David Schilling, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)

Bangladesh: Millions of garment workers continue to be threatened with job & income losses, as global brands cancel orders due to COVID-19

“The collateral damage of Covid-19 in the Bangladesh apparel sector”, 24 April 2020

[T]he…Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh [killed]… 1,138 garment…and [injured]…2,500 injured…, expos[ing] the human rights risks of outsourcing…to factories with inadequate safeguards. 250 investors…, organized by [ICCR]…, appeal[ed] to apparel brands and retailers to join the Accord on Fire and Building Safety…, help[ing] to…create safe factories through a binding agreements between global brands and trade unions.

Today…, in Bangladesh: the jobs of 4.1 million garment workers are being threatened as global brands cancel over $3 billion…due to the COVID-19…, [with] many…brands refusing to accept completed garment orders…, to pay for raw materials…already purchased by their suppliers [and]…to pay suppliers’ production costs. More than 2 million garment workers in Bangladesh have already been fired or furloughed. The situation in Bangladesh is replicated in other countries.

Companies that have committed to pay their suppliers in full…include[e]: adidas, H&M, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Nike, PVH, Target (USA), UNIQLO and VF Corporation. More companies must step up to do the same. In the coming weeks, ICCR and KnowTheChain (KTC) will be coordinating investor letters and engagements with the 43 apparel/footwear companies ranked in the KTC’s 2018 Apparel and Footwear Benchmark Findings Report. We invite investors to join this initiative and add their voices to the call for responsible action to ameliorate the desperate situation of apparel workers…

Part of the following timelines

Bangladesh: Seven years on from Rana Plaza factory collapse, garment workers' lives at risk again amid COVID-19

Rana Plaza building collapse, April 2013