Garment workers during pandemic

A report issued by the Workers Rights Consortium at the situation of global garment workers during the pandemic.  OTL shares this simply as a picture into part of the world of global garment workers.  Shared for information purposes only.

“HUNGER IN THE APPAREL SUPPLY CHAIN: Survey findings on workers’ access to nutrition during Covid-19

Falling Income and Changing Employment Status amidst Covid-19

l Most garment workers’ incomes had fallen amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Many workers had permanently lost their jobs, often without receiving legally mandated sever- ance pay that they urgently need.

l 38 percent of workers in our survey reported that, due to either temporary suspension of employment (11 percent) or permanent dismissal (27 percent), they no longer had jobs, while 2 percent of work- ers had resigned their em- ployment.

l 60 percent of the workers in our survey had not experienced any change to their employment status and continued to work at the same factory as before the pan-
demic. However, while these workers reported an average pre-pandemic take-home pay of $187 per month, their in- come had dropped to an average of $147 per month. In other words, they experienced a 21 percent decrease in income between March and August 2020.


Photo credit: Riza Azhari /

l Of the workers who had been suspended, 30 percent reported that they had received no pay at all during the suspension period, the remainder reported receiving varying per- centages of their pre-pandemic pay.

l Of the workers who had been terminated by their employers (roughly 1/4 of our sample), 70 percent reported that they had not received their full legally mandated severance pay and 40 percent reported they received none of the severance pay they were legally owed. Only 24 percent of the terminated workers reported receiving the full mandated amount.

Growing Hunger and Food Insecurity

l As a direct result of falling incomes, and in some cases job loss or suspension, workers reported growing hunger and food insecurity.

l 77 percent of workers reported that they or a member of their household had gone hungry since the beginning of the pandemic.
m The frequency with which workers and members of their households went hungry

varies: 20 percent of workers reported experiencing hunger on a daily basis since the beginning of the pandemic, while 34 percent experienced hunger at least once a week.

l 88 percent of workers reported that diminished income had forced a reduction in the amount of food consumed each day by themselves and members of their household.

l Among the workers in the sample with dependent children, 80 percent reported that they were forced to skip meals or reduce the amount or quality of food they ate in order to feed their children.

l 67 percent of workers reported that they or members of their household had been forced to skip meals during the pandemic or reduce the quality of meals.
m 22 percent of workers said they were forced to skip meals or reduce nutritional quality on

a daily basis, while 31 percent indicated that they were doing so more than once a week.

l 66 percent of workers reported that they now must forgo foods that they were able to purchase for themselves and their families before the pandemic. Most commonly, work- ers reported having to remove meat from their food basket, as well as other staples in- cluding vegetables and grains.

l 75 percent of workers reported that they had borrowed money or accumulated debt in order to buy food since the beginning of the pandemic. Of these, 43 percent were work- ing at the same factory that employed them before the pandemic, indicating that even workers who were still employed were taking on debt to cope with falling incomes. Giv- en the well-documented risk that debts can lead to severe labor exploitation, including forced labor for low-wage workers, this is a worrying trend (see page 14).

l The widespread incidence of hunger revealed by the survey exists despite the fact that a majority of surveyed workers had received some degree of government assistance, indi- cating that resource-poor governments in apparel exporting countries were not able to protect supply chain workers from the economic ravages of the pandemic.

l 80 percent of the workers in our sample anticipate that they will need to further reduce the amount of food they eat or purchase for their family if the situation does not improve”

Hunger in the Apparel Supply Chain

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