Asia Floor Wage Alliance has released a report entitled “Money Heist: Covid-19 Wage Theft in Garment Global Supply Chains.”
The report surveyed 2,185 garment workers across 189 factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The report identifies 15 big brands and retailers who abruptly cancelled orders or refused payment to garment factories in Asia, who in turn passed on their losses to workers by imposing mass layoffs and illegal firings, in addition to other exploitative and underhanded tactics exposed in the report.
It claims that garment workers sank into extreme poverty, crushing debt, hunger and poor health.
The report further adds that the Asian Governments reacted in different ways, offering little to limited support to workers. However, not a single Government held brands accountable for deepening a humanitarian crisis already brought on by the pandemic.
Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator, Asia Floor Wage Alliance, says “Wage theft is intrinsic to the business model of global fashion brands, and it was exacerbated by the pandemic. It was not an unintended result of the crisis. We have highlighted this through the report and demonstrated how brand actions caused and contributed to human rights violations through wage theft.”
During the online launch of the report, trade union leaders from Asia and international academics discussed the report’s findings detailing the humanitarian crisis brought on by global fashion brands including, H&M, adidas, Nike, Inditex and Levis.