LONON – A coalition of 10 international organisations is calling on apparel brands and retailers to display best practice with suppliers to help protect workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the joint statement, ETI UK, amfori, Better Buying, Fair Labor Association, Fair Wear Foundation, ETI Norway, IDH, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, Solidaridad and The IRBC Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile express deep concern about the health and livelihoods of millions of garment workers and their families.
Among other things, they call on brands to work with factories on safety measures to limit the risk of infection, ensure they pay for completed orders and orders in progress, avoid cancelling planned orders, and for them to offer flexibility in case factories need to change delivery dates and/or adapt payment terms
“Factories must ensure on-time payment of salaries to workers who remain actively employed”, they write. If facilities have to close temporarily, the coalition believes the top priority for all stakeholders should be supporting workers, either directly or in helping them access finances to bridge this period in which they cannot work.
The coalition also urges governments of garment importing countries and multilateral organisations to act. Next to supporting brands and retailers, they argue that these governments and organisations should offer relief funds for the people who make our clothes.
The organisations, seven of which represent close to 2,000 garment brands and retailers, say they understand that garment companies are facing extremely difficult times. Despite this, they ask them to “continue to conduct business responsibly.”
“The situation offers unique momentum to establish social protection for employees, such as unemployment benefits, in a more sustainable way”, they write.
The coalition is also working on additional guidance to support companies and stakeholders in the recovery phase.