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24 Apr 2020

Asia Floor Wage Alliance

Post-Rana Plaza, fashion industry & unsafe working conditions continue to risk garment workers' lives; COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated crisis

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"Brand Take Responsibility to Build and Maintain Safe Factories: Remember the Victims on the 7th Anniversary of the Rana Plaza Tragedy & Commit to Change the Global Garment Industry", 24 April 2020

... In this time of COVID-19 pandemic... Rana Plaza is an important marker that holds many lessons... [and] punctuates a long list of egregious tragedies in the garment or fast fashion industry... [Garment] factory fire and deaths continue... because workers are not treated as human beings, but disposable bodies. The fast fashion industry, driven by brands and retailers, refrain from investing in safe factories and working conditions as it increases the production cost, unless compelled by law regulation and strict enforcement. Workers’ lives are put at risk to sustain increasing profits for fashion brands... Brands offload costs of their global supply chains to supplier firms while at the same time demanding cheap products and the ultimate burden falls on the workers, who are forced to work in conditions that neglect basic occupational and safety conditions...

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated this crisis, where garment workers working under inhuman and poverty-level conditions have no room for adjustments and are immediately plunged into desperate illnesses, starvation and homelessness... In these dire circumstances, it is imperative that the brands that appropriate billions in profits are made accountable for safe working conditions as well as the well-being of workers... The advances made by the Accord must be pushed further in ensuring better working conditions throughout supply chains, payment of living wages and fostering unionization...