No matter who we are or where we live, we’re all cut from the same cloth. Coronavirus reminds us we’re part of one global community, facing this pandemic together.
As many people here in Australia lose their jobs due to Covid-19, internationally the women who make our clothes face a similar story of mass job losses, with no rescue package from the government. Clothing brands are abruptly cancelling orders from factories and declining to pay for orders of clothes already completed. As a result, supplier factories in places like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Myanmar are unable to pay workers’ salaries.
This means millions of the women who make our clothes will slip into extreme poverty. As Covid-19 causes unprecedented disruption across the world, it’s tough for everyone out there. For those already living in poverty, vulnerable from being paid poverty wages for many years, the situation is dire. Brands are risking the lives and livelihoods of millions of people who make our clothes. Already, more than a million workers in Bangladesh for example have been laid off, and 4.1 million workers will literally go hungry.
WHAT ARE WE ASKING?
Brands must urgently commit to ensuring workers in garment factories continue to receive their wages during the Covid-19 crisis for a minimum of three months by:
a) Paying for orders already completed and ready for shipment, to allow for immediate payment of worker’s wages.
b) For work in progress (clothes currently being made) pay worker’s wages at least.
Brands must also ensure:
- No worker is forced to work in factories made unsafe by inability to keep physical distancing.
- Workers who raise concerns about Covid-19 do not face repercussions or dismissal.
- If factories close or a worker becomes infected with Covid-19 workers should receive paid leave entitlements.
- Collaboration with other brands (in Australia and internationally,) trade unions, financial institutions and governments to determine a collective response to maintaining wages.
The fight for a living wage is never far from our minds. This pandemic makes clear the urgent need for brands to ensure the women who make our clothes are paid enough to live on.
All work has value and all working people have rights. Workers around the world are in this together.
Simply fill in your details to the right and an email will be sent directly to a group of large Australian fashion brands on behalf of the What She Makes campaign.