Over million workers in Bangladesh’s garment industry have either been fired or furloughed as global fashion companies have canceled or suspended orders in Bangladesh due to COVID-19 crisis, reports Penn State University’s Center for Global Workers’ Rights and the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor-rights monitor.
A number of suppliers in Bangladesh have abandoned these workers and refuse to even cover the costs of work already done. Many factories expect to close unless something changes. The dire situation has come about as Covid-19 has forced companies to shutter stores as part of social-distancing measures while demand for new clothes has simultaneously plunged as shoppers stay home and stop buying anything that isn’t essential. Retailers are doing all they can to avoid adding to their mountain of unsold inventory.
Fashion companies have already canceled or put on hold at least $3 billion in orders from Bangladesh’s garment factories, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). That’s roughly equivalent to a full month of exports, based on previous BGMEA data. Without the orders, many factories are unable to pay workers