Coronavirus: Fashion retailers urged to protect garment workers

Garment workers factory covid-19
Non-governmental organisations have called on international governments and retailers for "urgent action" to support factory workers
// Fashion retailers called on to protect factory workers from Covid-19
// NGOs urged brands to take action to support workers who may have lost their jobs

Fashion retailers have been urged to intervene further in protecting garment workers from unsafe working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Non-governmental organisations have called on international governments and retailers for “urgent action” to support factory workers who may have also lost their jobs due to Covid-19.

In a statement, signed by the Ethical Trading Initiative UK, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and others, the groups called on governments in textile-producing countries to “ensure on-time payment of salaries to workers who remain actively employed”.


The groups have also called on factories that are still operating to implement safety measures, avoid cancelling planned orders and introduce “flexibility in factories to change delivery dates and or payment terms” for orders.

Governments around the world have announced full lockdown in recent weeks which saw non-essential shops closing their doors until further notice.

The clothing sector has been heavily impacted by the pandemic, with exports dropping by 84 per cent in the first half of April as £2.3 billion worth of orders were cancelled or suspended, according to factory owners.

Earlier this month, Swedish retail giant H&M, which is the largest buyer of Bangladeshi apparel, said it is working with other businesses to support garment workers in Bangladesh, where over two million have been affected by factory closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, last week retailers were demanding 50 per cent price cuts from Bangladeshi manufacturers amid the crisis.

“We are still observing their departure from original contract terms, which includes renegotiating prices as low as 50 per cent of the original deal,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Rubana Huq said.

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