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DHAKA – Millions of garment industry workers face being laid off in Bangladesh if brands continue to cut and run from the country, claims Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters (BGMEA) president. Dr Huq has issued a rallying cry to global apparel brands to support the Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry for the next three months.

She said the industry has “a responsibility to 4.1 million garment workers” and that now is the time for “brands and their suppliers in Bangladesh to join hands and work together.”

Dr Huq requested that brands honour current orders. A number of major fast fashion brands have put all orders on hold and left many factories out of pocket for raw materials and other supplies they had purchased to fulfil contracts.

Dr Huq said the industry needs the support of brands urgently over the next three months or factories could be forced to lay off millions of workers.

She added: “Three months of support for the sector is not that much. Our workers’ lives are at stake. Kindly do not let go of our hands.”

“So far it’s been US$1.5bn lost, impacting the lives of 1.2 million workers. While the Covid19 wreaks havoc globally, the fate of our industry and our workers has ended up being uncertain. With brands handing out cancellations and deferments, we have no idea what tomorrow holds.

“Brands who were partners last month have all turned into strangers, unable to fathom our exposure to an existential crisis of handling the wages of 4.1 million workers. Without orders and with empty production spaces, all the workers run a risk of being totally unemployed for a long time to come.

“For us it comes down to a level of bare minimum survival mode, while the western world still has the privilege of having bailouts from their privileged governments On that consideration, we call upon the international community to surface with a renewed pledge to support the workers of Bangladesh, if not just the businesses.”

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