Baptist World Aid Australia (BWAA) is calling on fashion companies to commit to six commitments designed to support workers in global supply chains.
The relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance, and a member of the Transform Aid International Group is best-known for publishing the annual Ethical Fashion Report, which grades clothing brands for their efforts to address worker exploitation and environmental degradation.
The group says it is concerned about the potential of the Covid-19 crisis to slow or reverse a decade of progress in improving the rights and conditions of workers making clothes around the world.
It’s new ‘Covid Fashion Commitments‘ are designed to provide vulnerable workers with “immediate support and protection” during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic – and it is calling on brands to make and deliver on the following promises:
- Support workers’ wages by honouring supplier commitments;
- Identify and support the workers at greatest risk;
- Listen to the voices and experience of workers;
- Ensure workers’ rights and safety are respected;
- Collaborate with others to protect vulnerable workers;
- Build back better for workers and the world.
“As companies and consumers who benefit from the labour of supply chain workers in the good times, we have a responsibility to work together to do all we can to stand with them in these challenging times,” says director of advocacy Peter Keegan.
As retailers continue to close their doors, cancel or suspend orders and lay off staff in Australia, BWAA adds production facilities around the world are being forced to shut, “leaving thousands of workers in dire situations.”
In October, BWAA will release a special edition of its annual Ethical Fashion Report, which will look into the response of the fashion industry and individual companies to the vulnerabilities faced by workers during the coronavirus crisis. The organisation says it will work to resource and encourage collaboration as companies step up to these responsibilities.
CEO John Hickey adds: “No one company will be able to solve the current challenges alone, so as part of these commitments we encourage companies to collaborate and be innovative to ensure they do everything possible to support their workers to get through the health, economic, and humanitarian crises that the coronavirus presents.”
The call comes after apparel brands and retailers – including Adidas, C&A, H&M Group, Inditex, M&S and Primark – last week joined employer organisations, unions and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to push for emergency funding to support garment factories and workers through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Textile, apparel, footwear and travel goods trade associations from around the globe are also adding to calls for governments to address the liquidity squeeze caused by Covid-19 across the supply chain. And a coalition of labour rights groups representing around 2,000 apparel brands and retailers has separately set out its priorities to protect garment workers during the crisis – including safeguarding worker income and health, and future-proofing supply chains.