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Asia: Apparel brands cancel orders in midst of COVID-19 crisis, leaving garment workers in financial precarity

“Brands Abandon Asia Workers in Pandemic”, 01 April 2020

Apparel brands’ business practices in response to COVID-19 are exacerbating the economic plight of millions of garment workers in Asia … brands and retailers have cancelled orders without assuming financial responsibility even when workers had finished making their products.

These brand actions that increase worker job losses through dismissals and temporary layoffs are contrary to brands’ human rights responsibilities … Many supplier factories in Asia are strapped for cash and unable to pay workers’ wages and other compensation because of the brands’ actions.

“These are extraordinarily challenging times, yet clothing brands facing tough business decisions to ride out the COVID-19 crisis should not forsake the factory workers who make their branded products,” said Aruna Kashyap... of Human Rights Watch…

… Nearly 200 institutional investors have urged companies to maintain supplier relationships as much as possible, and make timely and prompt payments to suppliers.

Some global brands are repurposing their supply chains to produce personal protective equipment, including gloves and masks, for medical purposes…

… Producing personal protective equipment, however, will not generate sufficient alternative employment for all workers.

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