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Report

Asia Floor Wage Alliance examines challenges of COVID-19 for suppliers that translate into increased risk & burden of liability for garment workers

"THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES: Garment supply chains in the time of pandemic, Isue III", July 2020

...This issue with a focus on Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka — highlights the challenges that suppliers... face due to the lockdown measures and reduced business activities, and how these challenges translate to increased risk and burden of liability for garment workers...

The crisis has forced supplier associations to demand both ‘capital-centric’.... concessions from the state... to meet working capital requirements and overcome the liquidity crunch [and] labour-centric approaches... to increase ‘flexibility’ in labour markets and reverse the gains that workers won through decades of collective struggle—including an eight-hour workday, decent working conditions, freedom of association, and collective bargaining provisions. As a response, labour unions have been organising protests and demanding that their rights be safeguarded, with great personal risk...

Most... labour-centric demands by suppliers go against the interests of the garment workers... governments have shown limited interest in providing wage subsidies, while they continue to push for labour reforms which dismantle existing worker rights (including minimum wage legislations), without any consultation with workers or unions...

Many garment producing countries want to project ‘cheap’ and ‘flexible’ labour as their competitive advantage to attract foreign investment in the post COVID-19 period and this can lead to a further race to the bottom in terms of wages and working conditions for workers...