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22 Apr 2020

Amfori, Ethical Trade Norway, Ethical Trading Initiative, Fair Labor Association, Fair Wear, Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, IRBC Agreement, Better Buying, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, Solidaridad

Multi-stakeholder initiatives for better labour conditions in garment supply chains publish joint statement on immediate and long-term steps to protect workers from fallout of COVID-19 crisis

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“Statement: Garment industry coalition lays out join priorities for the garment sector”, April 2020

Two priorities that urgently need our attention in response to Covid-19 and its impact on the garment industry and its workers:

1. Protecting worker income and health

We call upon brands, retailers, suppliers, governments, trade unions, industry associations, civil society and multilateral organisations to work together to enable factories to maintain employment relationships … protect the health of garment workers.

Factories must ensure on-time payment of salaries to workers ... If facilities have to close temporarily, … all stakeholders … [should] support workers directly or in accessing finances … all workers should receive their full legal entitlements, including wages, benefits, and severance pay.

2. Future-proofing supply chains

... [T]he situation offers a unique opportunity to rebuild structures … Fair and collaborative relationships between retailers, brands, and suppliers, as well as … responsible production, should form the foundation of future global supply chains …

A joint call to action to the garment sector

This first joint statement is focused on the crisis and early recovery phase …

Call on governments and multilateral institutions

Instant relief for international supply chains

Governments … have a duty to protect … their citizens. We also call upon governments … to take into consideration the impacts of … Covid-19 … throughout global supply chains. We call upon our governments to coordinate with multilateral institutions to provide relief funds … to garment workers …

Long-term improvements

… We call upon governments and multilateral institutions to establish and maintain strong social protection … and … extend social protection for workers and employers in the garment industry… including health and sickness benefits, unemployment, employment injury, and medical insurance ...

Call on brands and retailers

… [C]ompanies must continue to uphold principles of responsible business conduct … We call on companies to communicate …  the measures they take in this crisis to ensure accountability … We call upon … garment brands and retailers to implement the following key responsible sourcing decisions…

  • Maintain … dialogue with all supply chain partners on sourcing decisions and look for collaborative solutions …
  • … [R]etailers and brands [should] pay … for orders completed or in progress.
  • If orders cannot be completed … retailers and brands … [should cover] labour … materials or other costs … incurred.
  •  [C]ompanies [should] work … to minimise the … impact upon workers …
  • Collaborate with suppliers on orders for upcoming months to … and treat order cancellations as a last resort.
  • … [B]e flexible about delivery dates, payment terms, and financial liability.
  • Do not terminate the business relationship with your supplier ... If exit is unavoidable ensure that workers are protected and paid.
  • Work closely with suppliers … to collaboratively plan and secure capacity needed and provide updated forecasts.
  • Safeguarding factory working conditions
  • Listen to the voices of workers …
  • Make sure safety measures to contain the risk of infection are implemented at the work floor …
  • Factories should … involve [workers] in decision making. Workers must have access to a trade union or … representation … Grievance channels should be accessible …
  • Workers should have access to safe transportation to the factory.