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Dignity factory workers producing shirts for overseas clients, in Accra, Ghana

Research and New Conversations about Work in Global Supply Chains

COVID-19 and the Garment Industry Brief

Female garment workers wearing masks.

The New Conversations Project has published a new research brief with the ILO assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the apparel industry in Asia and the Pacific.

Using new trade data, ILO Better Work surveys, media and civil society reports, and interviews with employer and worker organizations, we track the changes in the apparel industry in the early months of the pandemic: factory closures and their impacts on employment, wages, women workers, safety and health, and freedom of association.

We also find that after thousands of supplier factory closures--either temporary or permanent--only three in five workers were called back to work by June 2020. For workers still employed in the second quarter of 2020, declines in their earnings and delays in wage payments were common. In addition, the research identifies how women, who make up the majority of the workers, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, exacerbating existing inequalities in earnings, workload, occupational segregation, and distribution of unpaid care work.

And finally, we look at the shape of the policies and initiatives rolled out to counter the impacts of the crisis.

Speaking about the findings, Ms. Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific said, “This research highlights the massive impact COVID-19 has had on the garment industry at every level. It is vital that governments, workers, employers and other industry stakeholders work together to navigate these unprecedented conditions and help forge a more human-centered future for the industry.”

Read the report here.

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