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20 Dec 2020

Emeline Wuilbercq, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Ethiopia: Garment workers report unpaid, forced overtime and pay cuts at Indochine Apparel and KGG Garments factories

"Pay cuts and forced overtime: COVID-19 takes heavy toll on Ethiopia’s garment workers", 22 December 2020

Even before COVID-19 struck, the women stitching clothes at Ethiopia’s Hawassa industrial park were among the world’s worst-paid garment workers - many making less than $30 per month.

Today, pay cuts and forced overtime have become common in short-staffed factories abandoned by hundreds of former employees - some too scared of catching the coronavirus to return, several workers told the Thomson Reuters Foundation...

[One worker] said she has been working an extra six hours per week - work for which she has not been paid, instead being given occasional $0.13 top-up cards for her mobile phone.

At least five other women reported similar experiences since factories reopened.

They said they worked for manufacturers including KGG Garments PLC and Indochine Apparel PLC, which supply big brands such as The Children’s Place and Levi Strauss & Co.

A manager at KGG Garments PLC and the head of human resources at Indochine Apparel PLC denied the workers’ allegations of unpaid, forced overtime and said their factories had not closed during the pandemic.

Fitsum Ketema, general manager of the Hawassa Industrial Park, said “there are no such practices in our park”.

“Our companies are running their business respecting the law of the country,” Ketema said in a text message.

The Children’s Place and Levi Strauss & Co did not respond to requests for comment.