DHAKA – German retailer KiK has donated money to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for garment workers in Bangladesh. The donation was made through industry body, BGMEA, and will be forwarded to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh.
The retailer said the donation comes as a part of the KiK’s social responsibility as a long-standing partner of the garment industry in Bangladesh. Rights groups including Clean Clothes and the Worker Rights Consortium have recently being urging brands to do more to support garment supply chains with vaccination drives and factory safety around Covid-19. Other brands are likely to follow the suit of KiK, however, our understanding is that it is access to vaccines rather than funding which is creating bottle necks in the drive to get garment workers vaccinated in countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam.
Patrick Zahn, CEO KiK, said: “As a result of our many years of close cooperation, we became very aware of the impact of the Corona pandemic on the country and the garment industry in particular. People in this industry work indoors, where they are at increased risk of infection. For me, there is no doubt that vaccination is the best protection against the Corona virus. With our donation, we want to make a contribution to ensure that people in the garment industry in Bangladesh are protected in the best possible way,” explains
BGMEA president Faruque Hassan said: “The garment industry serves as the most important pillar of Bangladesh economy. This sector has suffered tremendously from the effects of the COVID pandemic and continues to do so to this day. To protect the entire economy of the country, it is crucial that workers and employees in this industry can be offered a vaccine. Thanks to the generous donation of the German company KiK, we are able to procure and vaccinate thousands of RMG workers in Bangladesh.”
Previously, BGMEA requested the government to bring garment workers under vaccination on a priority basis, considering them as frontline workers. As a result the government of Bangladesh launched a vaccination programme for the RMG workers in July this year which is ongoing.