Garment Industry Moves to Work with Governments to Tackle Effects of COVID-19

photo: Wolrd Bank - Flickr CC

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has welcomed the Call to Action by garment industry to work with governments to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The industry’s employer, worker organisations, leading brands and retailers have expressed willingness to work with governments and financial institutions to tackle the devastating economic disruption and threat to livelihoods caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The call to action is bringing together key stakeholders in the industry in the wake of unprecedented social and economic disruption that has resulted in the closure of factories and retail stores, illness, and widespread loss of income and unemployment.

This initiative was announced in a joint statement by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and IndustriAll Global Union.  

It aims to mobilise sufficient funding to enable manufacturers to ensure business continuity, payment of wages, as well as income-support and job retention schemes to protect garment workers’ income, health and employment.

“ILO is deeply concerned by the threat posed by COVID-19 to millions of jobs in the global garment industry. This is an unprecedented crisis that can only be solved through global solidarity. The priority must be to sustain businesses and protect workers”, says its Director-General, Guy Ryder. 

‘’At the heart of this, is an effective social dialogue between governments, workers’ and employers’ organisations, and we urge all actors to heed this call and take joint action that will help us avert catastrophe for the industry.”

Employers, workers, retailers and major brands involved in the collaboration will form an international working group – convened by the ILO – to implement measures to limit the damage caused by the pandemic to enterprises and livelihoods.

The working group has also committed to supporting the development and expansion of social protection systems for workers and employers in the garment industry as part of the recovery.

IOE Secretary-General, Roberto Suárez Santos, says “the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this critical industry requires a global response.

‘’“IOE joins this call for action to support business continuity as well as the livelihoods of workers in the garment industry during this disruptive period. 

‘’This is a voluntary initiative that focuses on mobilising collective action. It is not aiming to disregard stakeholders, companies and organization that might not be able to join.”

ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, underlines the need for cooperation. “We cannot afford the human and economic devastation of the collapse of our global supply chains and millions more in developing economies thrown back into poverty. 

‘’Jobs, incomes and social protection are the dividends of business continuity and this statement calls for emergency funds and social protection for workers to guarantee industry survival in the poorest of our countries. Leadership and cooperation from all stakeholders are vital to realizing a future based on resilience and decent work.”

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