In light of Covid-19, Tearfund New Zealand and Baptist World Aid Australia (BWAA) are postponing the launch of the Ethical Fashion Report for 6 months. Instead, they are encouraging brands to look at what it would take to “build back better” by launching the Covid Fashion Commitments today.
The Covid Fashion Commitments are designed to provide vulnerable workers with immediate support and protection during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Known for publishing the annual Ethical Fashion Report which grades clothing brands for their efforts to address worker exploitation and environmental degradation, Tearfund NZ is concerned about the potential of the Covid-19 crisis to slow or reverse years of progress in improving the wages, rights and conditions of workers making clothes around the world.
Tearfund NZ and BWAA are asking the public to join them in encouraging their favourite brands to make and deliver on these promises to their workers.
Tearfund NZ CEO Ian McInnes says, “While we acknowledge that fashion companies have been hit by Covid-19 and their supply chains have faltered, it is garment workers in particular who will pay the steepest price. We believe companies must do everything in their power to honour contracts and safeguard workers. Similarly, consumers who benefit from the remarkable range of clothing lines in good times should let their favourite brands know they’re interested in how their workers are treated in challenging times as well.”
As retailers continue to close their doors, cancel or suspend orders and lay off staff here in New Zealand, production facilities around the world are being forced to shut, leaving thousands of workers in dire situations.
In Bangladesh, where most workers are paid only poverty-level wages, more than 1 million workers have already been let go—many without last month’s pay and with little chance of compensation or a social safety net. Those who remain employed are unlikely to be able to practice social distancing or have access to safe hygiene measures, increasing the risk of infection in regions where healthcare is often difficult to access.
In October, Tearfund NZ and BWAA will release a special edition of the annual Ethical Fashion Report. This will look into the response of the fashion industry, mainly focusing on companies with annual revenues of $30 million and above, to the vulnerabilities faced by workers during the coronavirus crisis. Tearfund NZ and BWAA will work to resource and encourage collaboration as companies step up to these responsibilities.