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Asia: Economic impact of Covid-19 heightens modern slavery threat for garment workers across region

“Coronavirus fuels modern slavery threat for Asia garment workers”, 04 September 2020

The risk of modern slavery in Asian manufacturing hubs has surged and is set to worsen with the economic impact of the new coronavirus, increased labour rights violations and poor law enforcement, a global index found on Friday.

For the first time, India and Bangladesh were in the "extreme risk" category, joining China and Myanmar in a group of 32 countries with the worst risk of slave labour…

Garment workers supplying global fashion brands lost up to $5.8 billion in wages from March to May, the Clean Clothes Campaign pressure group said last month, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to store closures and cancelled orders.

… Laid-off workers are likely to turn to exploitative jobs or may put their children to work to cope with the loss of earnings, industry experts say.

"Even in the same jobs, the conditions have become more exploitative," said Apoorva Kaiwar, Regional Secretary for South Asia at IndustriALL Global Union…

Travel restrictions and measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have made it harder for companies to carry out audits to ensure ethical working practices in their supply chains, said the slavery index, which aims to help businesses identify risk.