The Pandemic is Linked to a 21.4% Drop in Monthly Wages for Garment Workers

The Pandemic is Linked to a 21.4% Drop in Monthly Wages for Garment Workers

By | Maggie Herrera

In the wake of COVID-19, salaries have been reduced due to the ripple effects of the pandemic, as reported by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in their October 2020 research brief. This is due to mass closures around the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, amplified by sharp drops in consumer demand. There is a correlation between strictness in lockdown measures and consumer demand.

Garment Workers at Risk Without Access to COVID-19 Vaccine: Report

Source: Women’s Wear Daily (WWD)
Garment workers work in a sewing section of the MG Niche Stitch Limited in Gazipur. Sipa USA via AP

Lockdowns bring pressure on other stages of the fashion supply chain, such as volume of the labor force, salaries, and input supply disruptions. You can view all details of the report and action the International Labor Organization took here.

  • The Worker Rights Consortium explains issues with finding jobs for garment workers during the pandemic explaining, “…many garment workers were hit by waves of retroactive order cancellations by leading brands, mass layoffs and factory closures, and nonpayment of legally mandated wages and severance.” Many people who were facing low-wage jobs and poor working conditions before the pandemic lost their jobs altogether once Covid hit.
  • Senior contributor of Forbes Brooke Roberts-Islam reports that the International Labor Organization “clearly states that although paying higher prices is not the only way to ensure workers are paid decent wages…it is difficult to understand how workers could be protected from continuous downward pressure on suppliers. This downward pricing pressure has led to a drop of $187 per month to $147 during the pandemic.
  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reported the outbreak led to “…production stops in China first, followed by closures of shops elsewhere around the world…Canceled orders are a cause for concern in many sourcing countries.”

In Mid-2020, the ILO proposed a Call to Action to ensure changes can be made to the supply chain and industry to remedy the impacts made by the pandemic. 

The long-term goal is to “work on sustainable systems of social protection for a more just and resilient garment system.” The 125-plus signatories promise to work together to bring the Call to Action’s goals into reality.

Now following the worst of the pandemic, workers from all industries are moving to gain rights and better working conditions and treatment following the years of mistreatment by corporations exploiting their labor. 

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