The impact of COVID-19 has magnified existing inequalities, systemic vulnerabilities, and challenges in global garment supply chains. The health and livelihoods of millions of garment workers and their families – who often cannot rely on savings, loans, or public safety nets – are at risk. The majority of garment workers are women, often concentrated in low-pay, low-power positions, underrepresented in unions and with additional unpaid child, elderly and sick care duties. COVID-19 has put them at a particular risk, not only for their immediate health but also for their immediate and long-term financial situation.
We call upon brands, retailers, suppliers, governments, trade unions, industry associations, civil society and multilateral organisations to work together to enable factories to maintain employment relationships and make changes in the workplace in order to protect the health of garment workers.
Factories must ensure on-time payment of salaries to workers who remain actively employed. 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.