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Employers, workers & major brands join with ILO on a call for action to support the garment industry

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The International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), IndustriALL Global Union, Bangladesh Employers’ Federation and major brands and retailers including Adidas, C&A, H&M Group, International Apparel Federation, Inditex, M&S, Primark, PVH Corporation, Ralph Lauren, Tchibo, VF Corporation, Under Armour and Zalando SE are working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to take action to support manufacturers to survive the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and to protect garment workers’ income, health and employment. This global action also calls for work on sustainable systems of social protection for a more just and resilient garment industry.

The Call to Action sets out urgent priorities and specific commitments for organizations across the industry to endorse as the first step to collective action to achieve these goals.

This will require all actors – governments, bank and finance institutions, international organizations, brands and retailers/e-tailers, manufacturers, employers’ organizations and trade unions, other stakeholders and development partners – working together urgently to develop concrete and specific measures and to make the contributions needed, consistent with organizational roles, to deliver on these priorities. This call to action states:

  1. We call on governments and financial institutions to accelerate access to credit, unemployment benefits and income-support, no or low-interest short-term loans, tax abatement, duty deferral, fiscal stimulus, and others forms of support.
  2. Recognizing that businesses, both brands and manufacturers, are facing unprecedented impacts to their viability and have widely varying circumstances which can dramatically affect wages and incomes of workers and individuals, the organizations that endorse this document commit to engaging with financial institutions, governments and donors, to support rapid and innovative fund mobilization through emergency relief funds, credit and short-term loans to provide quick income-support to workers and individuals. Support is also needed to enhance social protection schemes and support action to preserve jobs through different means, tax packages or social security charges and temporary unemployment programs. We will strongly support access to these funds so that suppliers can preserve their activities. This is vital to prioritizing jobs and incomes of workers immediately and throughout the extended period of the crisis.
  3. Funds shall be used to enable manufacturers to ensure business continuity including payment of wages for all workers regardless of employment contract, in accordance with national laws, collective agreements, and any prevailing income-support and job retention schemes to deal with the crisis.

Brands and retailers commit to a range of actions to limit the deleterious effects of COVID-19 on their supply chains, including:

  1. Paying manufacturers for finished goods and goods in production.
  2. Maintaining quick and effective open lines of communication with supply chain partners about the status of business operations and future planning.
  3. Should financial circumstances permit, direct support to factories can also be considered.
  4. To promote respect for the ILO core labor standards, as well as safe and healthy workplaces.
  5. We understand that immediate measures to address the impact of the crisis must go hand-in-hand with the establishment or strengthening of sustainable social protection systems and public infrastructure for social services. This is essential to increase resilience, allowing societies to cope with emergencies in the immediate term and to mitigate the impact of possible future crises. Organisations endorsing this statement therefore commit, consistent with our respective roles, to support the development of social protection floors and to extending social protection for workers and employers in the garment industry, consistent with recommendation ILO 202 with a view to establishing over time the responsibilities of all parties to contribute for sustainable systems.
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