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Pakistan garment workers fight for rights amid Covid-19 crisis

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Thousands of people involved in garment work in Pakistan are fighting forced termination and months of unpaid wages because COVID-19 is hitting the ability of workers to support their families in the fifth most populous country on earth. The clothing and appliance industries are

The industry accounts for nearly 9 per cent of Pakistan’s GDP – and almost 70 per cent of the country ‘s exports. The pandemic has wrought havoc on textile exports, most of which are sent to the US, China, the UK and Germany.

Factory production has slowed dramatically across the country, with global fashion brands reducing or eliminating orders. This has precipitated a devastating crisis for Pakistani suppliers, who are passing the impact along to those least able to weather it: labourers living on meagre wages, campaigners say. In Lahore, hundreds of garment workers were reported to have organised a strike last week against the non-payment of salaries at multiple factories and activists claim factory owners are treating workers as expendable commodities.

Human Rights Watch censured Pakistani clothing factories in recent years for widespread violations of labor, including the absence of the minimum wage, forcing unpaid overtime hours and the negligence of medical leave or sufficient worker breakages.

 

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