Covid-19: Global action to support the garment industry

photo: Wolrd Bank - Flickr CC

Employers, workers and major brands join with ILO on a call for action to support the garment industry.

The International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), IndustriALL Global Union, Bangladesh Employers’ Federation and major brands and retailers including Adidas, C&A, H&M Group, International Apparel Federation, Inditex, M&S, Primark, PVH Corporation, Ralph Lauren, Tchibo, VF Corporation, Under Armour and Zalando SE are working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to take action to support manufacturers to survive the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and to protect garment workers’ income, health and employment. This global action also calls for work on sustainable systems of social protection for a more just and resilient garment industry.

Concretely, employer and worker organisations along with leading brands, retailers endorse a call for action and commit to work with governments and financial institutions to mobilise sufficient funding to enable manufacturers to ensure business continuity including payment of wages, as well as income-support and job-retention schemes to address the impact of the crisis.

IOE Secretary-General Roberto Suárez Santos explains: “The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on this critical industry requires a global response. IOE joins this call for action with the aim of supporting business continuity as well as the livelihoods of workers in the garment industry during this disruptive period. This is a voluntary initiative that focuses on mobilising collective action. It is not aiming to disregard stakeholders, companies and organisation that might not be able to join.”

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow joins the call to action to ensure jobs and sustainable business in SMEs in the garment industry are maintained through this tragic period. She explains: “We cannot afford the human and economic devastation of the collapse of our global supply chains and millions more in developing economies thrown back into poverty. Jobs, incomes and social protection are the dividends of business continuity and this statement calls for emergency funds and social protection for workers to guarantee industry survival in the poorest of our countries. Leadership and cooperation from all stakeholders are vital to realise a future based on resilience and decent work.”

IndustriALL General Secretary Valter Sanches said: “These principles are the essential first step towards mobilizing the funds needed to maintain the livelihoods of garment workers through this crisis and beyond. Concrete action is now needed by the industry to protect supply chains and the workers they depend on.”

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder explained: "The International Labour Organization is deeply concerned by the threat posed by Covid-19 to millions of jobs in the global garment industry. This is an unprecedented crisis that can only be solved through global solidarity. The priority must be to sustain businesses and protect workers. At the heart of this is effective social dialogue between governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations. We urge all actors to heed this this call and take joint action that will help us avert catastrophe for the industry."

Emanuel Chirico, Chairman & CEO, PVH Corporation offered this endorsement: “The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected every aspect of the apparel value chain, from the closure of retail stores globally, to the workers, families and communities throughout the supply chain. We recognize that tackling this is far bigger than just one business and requires a collaborative industry response – and PVH is committed to that. We must work together as brands, governments, and representatives for workers as well as employers to establish a more just and resilient garment industry that is better equipped to deal with both the human and business impacts of Covid-19 and any future crises.”

Dr. Rubana Huq, President, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association expresses his support: “We deeply appreciate the global initiative jointly taken by IOE, ITUC, IndustriAll and ILO inviting all the reputed brands/buyers/retailers and other stakeholders in this ‘Call to Action’ to support the workers and enterprises of the RMG sector across the world severely impacted due to Covid-19. We hope that this will be a collective and collaborative platform where business across the globe will come forward to address the immediate crisis so that the lives and livelihoods of the millions of workers can be protected thereby allowing the RMG industry to sustain the challenges and come out with renewed resilience.”

IOE, ITUC, the ILO, and the other organisations that endorse this statement, consistent with their respective roles, commit to support the development of social protection floors and to extend social protection for workers and employers in the garment industry.

An international working group will be established within the next two weeks convened by the ILO and coordinated by IOE and ITUC, including brands and manufacturers, workers and employer organisations and governments, to further elaborate the implementation steps necessary to deliver on these commitments.

Full version of the call to action is available here Covid-19: Joint Call for Action In the Garment Industry

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