Associations and stakeholders from the global garment industry are working together to support Sri Lanka’s struggling apparel sector, which is now experiencing difficulties as a result of the ongoing economic crisis. Many organizations from across the world have expressed their support, most notably the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), which did so forcefully in a letter delivered recently to Sri Lanka’s Joint Apparel Association Forum on behalf of buyers (JAAF). The JAAF has also welcomed the call to action by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and the AAFA to support the apparel sector’s efforts to ensure worker welfare as Sri Lanka struggles under the weight of the ongoing economic crisis with power outages, shortages, and price increases of necessities.
Steve Lamar, President, and CEO of AAFA, wrote to thank JAAF for its efforts to keep workers safe and employed throughout the crisis. It commends the ongoing efforts being made to guarantee the industry’s advancement and capacity for job growth. Lamar cautions that making large sourcing changes at this time would have an effect on the nation’s clothing industry and the individuals who work in it. Before making any sourcing decisions, AAFA reaffirms its commitment to continue to be cognizant of the current situation and take the impact on workers into account. According to Lamar, AAFA also promises to keep in touch with its Sri Lankan partners, ensure prompt payment of suppliers, and ensure that workers are treated fairly.
To better understand the effects of the ongoing crisis on employees, suppliers, and the industry as a whole, ETI has started a collective reaction by speaking with economists, industry associations, worker representatives, and member firms operating in Sri Lanka. As a first step in providing assistance, the distribution of dry rations, medications, groceries, and prepared food has begun.
Companies that source from Sri Lanka are urged by the united call for action to help local suppliers, employees, and the industry as a whole. It encourages businesses that source from Sri Lanka to launch new initiatives to evaluate worker risks, keep in regular contact with suppliers, and pay suppliers on time. The industry’s existing worker welfare initiatives are enhanced and complemented by this collective assistance, which has been warmly received by JAAF. Yohan Lawrence, the JAAF secretary general, continues, “Factories are urged to create welfare measures that best suit the needs of their workers. By June 2022, over 80% of textile manufacturers had increased salaries by the cost of living in addition to the annual raises. These reflect rises of up to 25% from 2021 in some cases.