Friday, August 7, 2020 | ePaper

Apparel buyers have to be generous for the sake of female garment workers

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BANGLADESH has called upon the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Thursday to bring pressure on global buyers so that they do not cancel buying work orders particularly for apparels during the Covid-19 pandemic and to abide by existing business contracts. It has also asked ILO to take necessary measures to ensure jobs security for migrant workers abroad.
Bangladesh made the plea in the two-day 'ILO Virtual Global Summit' held from its headquarters in Rome. It was focused on addressing the manifold economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and was held to figure out how to protect the jobs of millions of workers and ensure their employment in the post Covid business world. Bangladesh especially in the summit raised the issue of massive cancellation of RMG work orders by major buyers causing massive retrenchment of workers as factories are closing or scaling back production plans due to financial insolvency as their merchandise remains unsold. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres and heads of other UN and international agencies took part in the gathering, the largest online business summit via video messages.
Dhaka has told the summit that the industry lost US$ 3.15 billion worth of business orders until mid-April and exports are sharply declining. Meanwhile, many buyers are harassing exporters holding back payments against earlier shipments or by demanding big cuts in agreed prices adding uncertainty to the industry. We must say the summit -- dedicated to devise post-Covid economic recovery, must be able to advance a common purpose of mutual benefits, instead of sidetracking the situation here risking employment of over 4.0 million garment workers.
Buyers are not unfamiliar with the reality and they must not behave in a way which will force the industry here to see that their business partners of over several decades are now behaving like unreliable partners in their bad days. Dhaka has rightly asked ILO to bring pressure on big buyers to remain committed to existing business contracts.  
In our view threat of pressure or legal action may not be a good idea. The owners should appeal on the basis of the humanitarian situation to persuade them to reconsider the decision of the buyers. The owners have to keep in mind the failures on their part and satisfy themselves that clothes from Bangladesh are safe. This can be done on the line also. Unfortunately for the owners our government carries no weight internationally and has earned a bad name for mismanagement and also has no credible friends.
The garment sector with the help of buyers brought about a revolution by creating job opportunities for women for which the nation is grateful to buyers. We expect them to show their best considerations to help to retain jobs for women workers.

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