A survey found that major fashion retailers that are closing shops and laying off workers in Europe and the US canceling their sometimes already completed orders leaves Bangladeshi garment workers often unpaid.
Employing more than 4.1 million people in apparel factories in Bangladesh, the country is just beginning to feel the direct impact of the pandemic, and now economy too is getting hit badly.
The disruptions from the virus outbreak are straining a fragile supply chain and the government, having offered huge tax incentives to entice manufacturers and buyers to move to Bangladesh, has almost run out of resources to help protect workers.
More than 1 million garment workers in Bangladesh have already lost their jobs and about 6 per cent of factories are facing cancellation of all the orders. Add to it, nearly 46 per cent have lost a big chunk of their orders.
Most big fishes are resorting to ‘force majeure’ clause in their contracts that is usually used in case of natural disasters or war. It justifies their stand to not to pay manufacturers that have already paid for fabric and other materials and labour to make the orders.
Factory owners are unlikely to fight back fearing that they might lose future business once the crisis passes. The damage is not just limited to the garments sector.
What is worse is that ILO estimated that 25 million jobs may be lost in the wake of current crisis!
Not to forget that Bangladesh being a manufacturing country, its garment sector provides 80 per cent of the country’s export earnings and the reality is certainly grim fearing the potential collapse of the industry.
Kalpona Akter, Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity group grieved “The global brands will lose a fraction of their profit, the owners will also lose their share, but the workers will be left without food and medicine.”