The COVID-19 pandemic is touching lives all over the planet, but is hitting garment workers in particular. They risk their health working in crowded factories without sufficient protection and risk their livelihood if they are sent home without pay. Brands and retailers need to act to protect the workers who have enabled their profits in the past. Read more below on how you can take action.
Brands need to:
1. #PayUp for what they ordered
2. Assure that workers receive their wages in full
3. Prevent workers from going penniless again
4. Stop union-busting under the guise of Covid-19
5. Ensure that workers are kept safe
What is happening?
Brands are not paying for orders
When the pandemic hit Europe and the US and more and more stores were closed, brands and retailers responded as they usually do: by pushing the risk down the supply chain. They did this by cancelling all orders placed before the crisis - some of which were already ready to be shipped. This meant that factories, which fronted the costs for fabric and labour, were often left without the money to pay their workers. After public outcry many brands decided to commit to paying orders, but still many more continue to refuse or negotiate large discounts and payment delays. Have a look at the brand tracker of Worker Rights Consortium to see what your favourite brand is doing.
Workers bear the brunt of the crisis
Many garment workers don't know when they will receive their next wage, how much it will be and whether they will still have a job next week. Many feel compelled to get back to work even if that workplace might be unsafe, as the choice is between a potential risk of infection and sure hunger. Brands, retailers, factory owners and governments must take responsibility to ensure that workers are paid their full wages and legal entitlements during the pandemic, that factories only re-open if they can operate without risking workers' health, and that factories do not use the pandemic to fire union members.
As workers are the least able to pay the price for the pandemic and because brands have a responsibility to protect their workers, we are urging brands to commit to a wage assurance: ensuring that all their workers will be paid during this crisis. According to our estimates workers in the garment industry around the world are owed in between 3.2 and 5.8 billion in wages just for the first three months of the pandemic. We need to tell brands and retailers to #PayYourWorkers.
What can you do?
Speak up: sign a petition!
Tell brands that their behaviour is not acceptable. They need to #PayUp on orders and ensure their workers are paid and protected during this crisis by committing to the wage assurance.
A range of petitions in and outside our network is calling upon brands to do the right thing:
Pay Your Workers highlighting Nike, Amazon, Next
Labour behind the Label focusing on Primark.
Oxfam Australia focusing on Australian brands.
Green America focusing on US brands.
Abiti Puliti (Italian) focusing on all brands.
War on Want focusing on UK brand Peacocks.
CCC Turkey focusing on workers' health.
Tell brands: #PayUp & #PayYourWorkers
Check this brand tracker to see whether your favourite brand has paid for its orders. If not, call them out on social media and tell them to #PayUp!
Want to reach a bunch of brands at the same time? Click here to tweet to a lot of them at once.
Has your favourite brand paid all of its orders? Ask what it is doing to pay its workers in general and whether it signed the wage assurance using the hashtag #PayYourWorkers.
Head over to our campaign website payyourworkers.org for more information about the campaign, action materials and to sign our petition.
Keep posted for regular days and weeks of action.
Keep informed on what is happening on our Covid-19 live-blog.