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April 2, 2020

Help for brands and suppliers on coping with corona crisis

A new resource has been launched to help garment brands and their supply chains navigate the Covid-19 crisis – with advice on its impact on factory workers and guidance on specific production countries.

A new resource has been launched to help garment brands and their supply chains navigate the Covid-19 crisis – with advice on its impact on factory workers and guidance on specific production countries.

The Covid-19 dossier from the Fair Wear Foundation, which partners with brands to support workers’ rights, is free to view and regularly updated.

In its guidance for production countries, the non-profit sets out detailed information for each of the countries in which it is active, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, China, Myanmar, Tunisia, Turkey and Vietnam. It looks at the current situation, what is happening with factory production, and government policies to support local businesses and protect workers.

There is also a section containing special guidance for brands, in which Fair Wear urges them not to cancel orders that are (almost) ready to be shipped, to anticipate changes or delays in production, and to be flexible about delivery dates.

“The lives of millions of garment workers are at stake,” explains Fair Wear director Alexander Kohnstamm. “It’s crucial that during this crisis all players in the garment industry show what responsible business looks like.” 

The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting garment supply chains hard. International garment brands are struggling to stay afloat. On the other end of the supply chain, the impact is devastating. Thousands of factories in garment producing countries have (partially) shut down. As a result, millions of factory workers have been sent home, many without any income to sustain their families, let alone protect them in this crisis.

“During this human rights crisis, it is more important than ever that Fair Wear supports its member brands in upholding their obligations towards garment workers in their supply chains,” Kohnstamm adds. 

“However, we also recognise that brands are facing extremely difficult times. It is clear that the scale and scope of this outbreak reach beyond the power of individual brands and retailers. 

“Governments of garment-producing countries need to provide social security for workers. Crucially, economic support measures taken by European governments should also take into account the millions of people that are making our clothes.”

Behind the scenes, Fair Wear says it is in active consultation with like-minded organisations. 

“This crisis exposes how vulnerable workers are in this fragmented, global value chain. And it also shows how interdependent we are: when business picks up again, many of the factories that brands rely on may well be out of business. 

“So, there is a human as well as a business imperative for the industry to embrace a new normal, in which fair prices and living wages are the norm. Many of our member brands are doing everything they can, and we will support them in their efforts to protect workers. 

“The outbreak makes it clear that there is an urgent need to change this industry for good!”

Click on the following link to view Fair Wear’s Covid-19 Dossier.

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