Outreach to companies on relationships with apparel manufacturers & response to the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020)
Many fashion brands and retailers responded to the COVID-19 crisis by canceling orders already produced and those in production, delaying payments and requesting discounts. This has forced suppliers in garment producing countries to dismiss millions of garment workers, often without legally-mandated pay and severance, pushing an already precarious group of workers to greater economic vulnerability. Trade unions, civil society organisations and manufacturing associations in garment producing countries have appealed to buyers to not cancel orders in response to the pandemic, fulfil existing contractual obligations and ensure garment workers are adequately protected from infection.
In May 2020, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre asked 35 major apparel brands and retailers - including all brands participating in the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) initiative on living wages - to answer a set of questions regarding payment terms before, and in response to, the COVID-19 pandemic in order to foster greater transparency of the apparel industry. We believe that improved industry transparency is an important first step towards supply chain practices that promote stronger human rights outcomes for workers. The full set of questions we asked can be accessed here. The responses informed our COVID-19 tracker of apparel companies, however other publicly available sources of information were sought to cover any gaps or non-responses to our questions. The survey responses and non-responses can be found below.