CSOs call on govt's, brands & suppliers to urgently mitigate health & economic impacts on 60 million garment workers bearing brunt of COVID-19 crisis

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, millions of garment workers in fashion supply chains have borne the brunt of the impacts of the crisis. Garment factories in producing countries have reduced or ceased altogether operations as a result of raw materials shortages from China, and major brands and retailers postponing or cancelling orders as clothing stores in developed market economies have been shut by lockdowns. As a result, millions of factory workers have been laid off or temporarily suspended, often without legally-mandated pay or severance. In some countries where factories remain in operation, workers are forced to continue work in factories where employers are unwilling to ensure adequate precautions, leaving workers, their families and communities at risk of infection.

Statements made by civil society organisations and trade unions, calling on brands, governments and suppliers to urgently mitigate the health and economic impacts of the crisis on garment workers, can be found below.

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28 April 2020

Website brings together fundraising & advocacy campaigns supporting garment workers through COVID-19 pandemic

Author: GarmentWorkersCovidRelief.org

"SUPPORT GARMENT WORKERS IMPACTED BY THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC", April 2020

... The livelihoods of millions of garment workers around the world have been threatened by the economic and social fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Global brands have cancelled orders, abandoning factory workers in a time of dire need. Other workers are manufacturing face masks and PPE in unsafe conditions. This website aims to bring together the numerous fundraising and advocacy campaigns in process by the Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, the Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles, Asia Floor Wage Alliance, ReMake, and more under one roof, so that the wider public can understand the issues and help garment workers through this crisis...

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29 April 2020

Labour groups produce guidelines for the safe operation of garment factories during COVID-19 pandemic

Author: Worker Rights Consortium & Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network

"Effective Infection Control Practices and Policies for Operating Apparel and Textile Factories", April 2020

The following guidelines relate to the safe operation of apparel and textile factories during the Covid-19 pandemic... The guidelines have two sections: one for facilities outside the United States and the other for facilities within the United States. Each section consists of immediate work practices needed to protect workers from infection on site and the new and revised workplace policies necessary to implement the infection control measures in an effective and sustainable manner...

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4 May 2020

Labour Day: Cambodian unions call on apparel brands to commit to pay for all placed, in-production & completed orders

Author: Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions

Cambodian trade unions May Day demands

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6 May 2020

Labour groups demand garment brands provide humanitarian relief to workers in crisis alongside their existing supply chain obligations

Author: Global Labor Justice

"All eyes on fast fashion: New rules for a new era of supply chains"

..All Eyes on Fast Fashion — New Rules for a New Era of Supply Chains is Global Labor Justice’s web-based tool to redefine the rules for global supply chains to create living wage jobs and transform how corporate accountability is defined and enforced in the global garment supply chain.  As workers, suppliers, and brands work together to rebuild supply chain capacity in the fast fashion sector, we must create a new era of supply chains where brands and their investors are held accountable for responsible business practices that fundamentally shift the imbalance of power and massive inequalities that have long plagued the global fashion industry. 

All Eyes on Fast Fashion kicks off with a demand to fifteen major fast fashion brands for a Supply Chain Relief Contribution equal to sixty days of income paid to workers through the suppliers who directly employ them. GLJ has written to ask fifteen major fast fashion brands to pay 2% of their annual sourcing towards immediate relief for supply chain workers, developed by our partner, the Asia Floor Wage AllianceThe SRC is a relief contribution and in no way substitutes brands’ existing and ongoing supply chain obligations to pay for orders given and produced, to not cancel orders, to not seek discounts in an already under-costed supply chain, and to act accountability in relation to any future cases of downsizing, retrenchment and closure...

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18 May 2020

Central America: Unions call on govt.s & brands to provide humanitarian support for 80,000 garment workers during COVID-19

Author: Ivan Castano Freedman, just-style

“Unions seek support for 80,000 Central America garment workers”, 15 May 2020

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Nearly 50,000 in El Salvador, 26,000 in Honduras and 6,000 in Nicaragua: that’s how many workers Central American garment factories are laying off with no paycheck, trade union officials say. They are stepping up calls for governments and fashion brands to help compensate and provide a livelihood for impoverished sewers until the pandemic recedes…

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1 June 2020

Labour groups call on brands to ensure garment workers will be paid wages & benefits during COVID-19

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

"Garment workers need apparel companies' assurance that they will be paid during this crisis", 1 June 2020

By cancelling orders, delaying placement... or forcing discounts on goods already produced, apparel companies have created a situation where factories are unable to pay workers on time or at all. After recent public outcry, a number of companies have committed to paying all orders placed before the pandemic hit. But that is not enough.  

Today, labour rights organisations and unions are urging apparel companies to publicly assure that all apparel... workers in their supply chain who were employed at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis will receive their legally mandated or regular wages and benefits, including back pay or severance pay if applicable. Furthermore, these organisations urge companies to assure payment of a price premium on future orders into a guarantee fund reserved to support stronger social protections for workers. 

Companies have a responsibility to prevent, mitigate, and remedy the human rights violations in their supply chains. By ensuring that workers receive their due wages, companies fulfil part of their due diligence obligations, which also include ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of workers, social protection, and safe working conditions that do not expose workers to infection or other health risks.

... [T]he Clean Clothes Campaign network will start reaching out to apparel companies with these demands directly as well as through an upcoming campaign...

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