Supporting Garment Workers is crucial at this time. As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, major garment companies responded by pushing risk and costs down the supply chain. Garment workers in countries such as Bangladesh have swiftly found themselves destitute with factories being forced to close due to dwindling orders. Many of these workers are migrant women.
Millions of workers are without income and job security, at a time of already extreme anxiety about health risks. Workers lose their jobs, do not receive severance pay and wages are cut. With historically low wages, making it impossible to accumulate savings, these workers are now struggling to pay for housing or essential supplies.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it is estimated that a total of £20 billion of orders worldwide have been cancelled, and in Bangladesh alone, the second biggest apparel producer, an estimated $6 billion in export revenue is estimated to be lost. Reports from Bangladesh indicate some 2.27 million workers are affected by cancelled orders. Many of these workers are young women, often their family’s primary wage earner and the impact on them will be devastating.
Trade Unions and NGO’s member of the Clean Clothes Campaign Network in South Asia and South East Asia are providing direct support to workers with emergency food packages and essential supplies. The packages include products like rice, wheat flour, vegetables, oil, washing soap, and protective equipment such as face masks. The project will be focusing on reaching migrant workers in Dhaka, Ashuila-Savar, Gazupur, and Chattagram as they are excluded from basic food programs organised by the state.
The project will provide immediate relief for garment workers and their families, in partnership with the Clean Clothes Campaign, implementation will be led by the Bangladesh Mukto Garment Sromik Union Federation (BIGUF).