Press Round Up: April 3


Dear Colleagues,

As the Covid-19 crisis continues to unfold, the WRC will occasionally be sharing relevant news articles, in addition to our own reporting, that give insight into the latest developments as they relate to garment workers and global apparel supply chains. Please see below for some pieces from recent days that we hope you will find useful.

Bangladesh garment makers say $3B in orders lost to virus
Associated Press — 03/30/2020
The AP reports on a survey conducted by the Worker Rights Consortium and Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Global Workers’ Rights demonstrating financial losses for Bangladesh’s garment sector, as well as the dismissal of at least one million workers. The losses are partly driven by order cancellations from buyers, in the wake of the economic downturn caused by Covid-19. The article also reports, however, that an increasing number of brands and retailers have committed to pay for orders already in process, which will mitigate harm for workers. 

Demand Dives at Apparel Retailers as Virus-Wary Shoppers Stay Home
Reuters — 03/13/2020
As brick and mortar stores are forced to close to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 and struggling consumers have less disposable income to spend on clothing, major garment retailers are projecting billions of dollars in losses, resulting in major shocks throughout their supply chains.

COVID-19: India in Lockdown, Apparel Factories Closed
Women’s Wear Daily — 03/24/2020
As India enters a 21-day lock-down, garment factories are forced to close after requiring workers to produce garments without proper protective equipment, despite health concerns. This article reveals the dangerous catch-22 faced by garment workers worldwide: continue to work in cramped, unsanitary conditions and risk getting sick or go without a paycheck with the potential for long-term unemployment, as input materials, such as fabric, from China are delayed and orders decrease worldwide. On a more positive note, the Government of India has ordered that garment workers receive paid leave and be protected from layoffs during the closure, the enforcement of this order is yet to be seen.

Coronavirus Lockdown Sends Migrant Workers On A Long And Risky Trip Home
NPR  03/31/2020
As Covid-19 forces garment factories to close, many migrant garment workers have been forced to return to their home communities. Reporting has shown that workers attempting to do so face unsanitary conditions on overcrowded transportation; are forced to walk, in some instances, thousands of miles over several weeks; are subject to police violence; and, without pay, face starvation. Though this article focuses on this phenomenon in India, the WRC has received reports of similar circumstances in other garment-exporting countries, for example Burmese workers returning to Myanmar from factories in Thailand. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions.