The implications for a country like Bangladesh of the COVID-19 outbreak are devastating, where the economy and the generation of jobs rely mainly on textile production and exports. As major contract cancels by global buyers have created chaos and the majority of apparel factories shut down their operations, BGMEA made every effort to save the industry.
In the last couple of months around 419 garment manufacturing units remain closed due to the large scale of order cancellations by the western buyers and lack of new work order. The more alarming is that 100 have now shut down operations permanently out of these 419 units. In such a scenario, BGMEA under the leadership of Rubana Huq issued an official letter to British billionaire Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) group, demanding to pay up for clothes shipped before 25 March. It has taken the stand of blacklisting specific buyers and has begun with EWM. According to the Bangladeshi factory owners, they had singled out Edinburgh Woollen Mill asking for large discounts that violated local laws, international standards and defied the principles of ethical sourcing.
In addition to working closely with the Government of Bangladesh and its foreign missions to facilitate parallel agreements with foreign buyers and governments, BGMEA has started to engage numerous international rights organizations in order to ensure that multinational distributors and brands pay to the local suppliers.