Campaign urges fashion brands to pay garment workers fairly

A network of labour rights organisations and unions has urged apparel companies to ensure all workers in their supply chains are paid fairly during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) network wants brands to publicly state that workers in their supply chain who were employed at the onset of the crisis will receive their legally-mandated or regular wages and benefits, whichever is higher.

The assurance should also state that workers will receive back pay or severance pay if applicable. Brands should also promise payment of a price premium on future orders, which will go into a fund to provide stronger social protections for workers. 

“Companies have a responsibility to prevent, mitigate, and remedy the human rights violations in their supply chains,” said the CCC.

“By ensuring that workers receive their due wages, companies fulfil part of their due diligence obligations, which also include ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of workers, social protection, and safe working conditions that do not expose workers to infection or other health risks.”

The organisations in the Clean Clothes Campaign network will start reaching out to apparel companies with these demands directly as well as through an upcoming campaign, the CCC said. 

“From the start of this pandemic, as the supply of raw materials from China dried up, garment workers have suffered economically, with workers in Asia faced with  factory closures and non-payment of wages and severance pay,” said the CCC.

“Since March... garment workers have worked in unsafe conditions, not been paid their wages, and suffered dismissals or retrenchment as apparel brands suddenly cancelled or refused to pay the agreed price for orders.”

In May Edinburgh Woollen Mill was accused of taking advantage of coronavirus to demand discounts from factories in Bangladesh.

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