Labour rights groups are calling for clothing brands and retailers to guarantee that all workers in their supply chains will receive wage and benefit payments during the Covid-19 crisis.
“By cancelling orders, delaying placement of new orders, or forcing discounts on goods already produced, apparel companies have created a situation where factories are unable to pay workers on time or at all,” the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) says. “After recent public outcry, a number of companies have committed to paying all orders placed before the pandemic hit. But that is not enough.”
The labour rights group is urging apparel companies to publicly assure that all apparel, textile, footwear, and logistics workers in their supply chains who were employed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic will receive their legally mandated or regular wages and benefits, whichever is higher. This includes wage arrears (back pay) and, where applicable, negotiated severance pay.
In addition, the network of over 230 organisations is urging companies to pay a price premium on future orders into a guarantee fund reserved to support stronger social protections for workers.
“Companies have a responsibility to prevent, mitigate, and remedy the human rights violations in their supply chains,” it says. “By ensuring that workers receive their due wages, companies fulfil part of their due diligence obligations, which also include ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of workers, social protection, and safe working conditions that do not expose workers to infection or other health risks.”
The organisations in the Clean Clothes Campaign network will start reaching out to apparel companies with these demands directly as well as through an upcoming campaign.
Its efforts follow the April release of a set of action points for brands, retailers, e-tailers, and governments amid the pandemic, which it says is exposing the “grossly unequal” power relations that define global garment supply chains.
Last week, a survey of 35 fashion brands and retailers found that despite mounting public pressure, 40% have made no public commitment to pay in full for completed orders.