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As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, the actions taken by fashion brands to protect their profits have had profound impacts on garment workers. Brands are using their disproportionate power over factory suppliers to cancel agreed orders, pay suppliers substantially less than agreed, or to grossly extend payment terms.

These decisions have a devastating impact on the 40 – 60 million garment workers in global fashion supply chains. Millions of workers have lost their jobs, have had months of unpaid wages, or have been forced to work for a fraction of their usual wage – an amount that has never been enough to cover a basic standard of living in the first place.

Labour rights advocates are appealing to buyers to pay for orders and support workers with wages and benefits they are owed. While many brands have acted responsibly and committed to paying for orders in full, the details of these commitments have been held in private and are still changing. We are tracking commitments made by 35 global fashion brands, the emerging demands from the labour movement, and recommendations on how to build back better.

By The Numbers

To date civil society has focused on whether brands have paid for orders placed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, details of these payments have not been made public, which hinders the ability to hold companies to account. To encourage a move towards greater transparency, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre conducted a survey of 35 fashion brands and retailers, asking for disclosure of payment terms and commitments made to suppliers. Our findings on the brand's actions are encapsulated through this tracker.

40%

Of Brands

Made no public commitment to pay for all completed orders (35 surveyed)

US$3.7bn

Orders Cancelled

In Bangladesh by retailers

67%

Wage Drop

For suspended workers in Cambodia

75,000

Workers

In Bangladesh not paid wages for March

Further Reading

The effect of COVID-19

COVID-19 has been referenced in news articles and reports in the following countries.

Resources from the Labour Movement

COVID-19 Coverage by Clean Clothes Campaign

For the past three months, Clean Clothes Campaign have been providing live coverage of news relating to garment workers, demands in defence of garment workers, and campaigning for brands to #PayUp for what they ordered and make sure workers receive their wages.

Which Brands are Acting Responsibly toward Suppliers and Workers?

The Workers Rights Consortium in association with the Center for Global Workers’ Rights are carrying out ongoing assessment of whether brands are honouring their commitments to act responsibly in direct dealings with suppliers. The tracker is being updated regularly and listings changed based on the brand's actions.

News from Trade Unions

Information from International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) affiliates, Global Union Federations and LabourStart about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers.

Build Back Better

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and magnified the structural inequalities that face garment workers in global apparel supply chains. Trade unions, Civil Society Organisations and rights advocates are not calling for business as usual to resume, but instead for a new social contract to emerge with shared prosperity and a more equal distribution of wealth in supply chains at its core.

Shaping a new social contract through the pandemic

The actions of governments, business, investors and civil society in response to COVID-19 will shape our futures, write Mary Robinson and Phil Bloomer.

Joint Letter: Recommendations for protecting workers in response to COVID-19

More than 40 CSOs present steps the International Finance Corporation (IFC)'s clients should take to align with IFC Performance Standards and international labor and human rights standards.

Human rights due diligence in times of (economic) crises

This ECCHR policy paper explores how textile companies and retailers should have been practising proper human rights due diligence in the years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, and how companies should act now to protect workers.