Cancelled or suspended orders: how COVID-19 exposes global inequality in the fashion industryFeatured
Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh, has committed $590 million to subsidize workers’ salaries and benefits. However, this may not be enough to support the approximately 4.5 million garment workers in the country, where more than 200 international corporations operate factories.
The problem is related to the COVID-19 crisis when international corporations have moved to cancel orders already in production.
These decisions have led to factory closures and layoffs in Bangladesh, where over $3 billion USD worth of export sales has been lost due to cancelled or suspended orders. These financial losses have seriously impacted local factories in the country, resulting in an inability to maintain employees’ salaries and endangering the livelihoods of millions of garment workers.
To support the workers, a number of advocacy groups have launched the ‘Clean Clothes’ campaign, encouraging companies to unsuspend their payments. Thus far, H&M, Zara, Marks & Spencer, and Target are among brands who have agreed to pay.
While none of the companies withholding payment are Canadian, labour groups are seeking a commitment from Canadian retailers to stop cancelling orders already in production, in order to ensure the magnitude of the problem does not worsen.