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Fashion industry coalition fights to protect garment workers

By Anna Zwettler

22 Apr 2020


A coalition of ten international organizations has urged fashion brands and governments to protect garment workers and future-proof supply chains amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The organizations, each working to improve labor conditions, are calling brands, retailers, suppliers, governments, trade unions, industry associations, civil society and multilateral organizations to make the necessary changes in order to protect the health and wellbeing of workers.

The coalition is made up of ten international organizations, including Ethical Trading Initiative UK, Amfori, Better Buying, Fair Labor Association, Fair Wear Foundation, Ethical Trade Norway, Solidaridad, IDH, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and the Agreement on International Responsible Business Conduct.

In order to fight magnified inequalities and protect garment workers whose livelihoods are at stake due to the coronavirus crisis, the coalition urged factories to “ensure on-time payment of salaries to workers who remain actively employed”.

The group added: “If facilities have to close temporarily, it should be a top priority of all stakeholders to support workers directly or in accessing finances to bridge this period that they cannot work. When worker retrenchment cannot be avoided due to long-term factory closure or bankruptcy, all workers should receive their full legal entitlements, including wages, benefits, and severance pay.”

The coalition further hopes to implement protective measures in factories, such as establishing safety procedures to minimize the risk of infection, involving workers in decision making processes, providing them access to trade unions and supplying safe transportation.

Covid-19 not only jeopardizes the livelihoods of workers, but also disrupts the status-quo of business. The organizations noted that while “the immediate effects of the crisis have been severe”, the situation offers the opportunity to rebuild the industry in a more sustainable way. According to the coalition, the future of global supply chains should prioritize social protection floors for workers, fair and collaborative relationships between retailers, brands and suppliers, as well as cover the cost of responsible production.

The organizations said: “We look forward to the results of the dialogue among global social partners which will likely set out priorities and commitments for joint industry action to respond to the pandemic. We plan to align each other and other key stakeholders to implement these two priorities.”

Photo credit: Clean Clothes Campaign

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