Since the May Newsletter article on the Call to Action in the garment sector, 106 entities, including 80 brands, manufacturers, retailers, Employers’ and Business Organisations, and trade unions, endorsed this initiative aimed at mobilising “sufficient funding to enable manufacturers to ensure business continuity including payment of wages, as well as income-support and job-retention schemes to address the impact of the crisis”.
The international working group designated to deliver on the signatories’ commitments met regularly and had its last meeting on 30 June 2020. It has a tripartite composition of employers’ and workers’ organisations, as well as governments.
National working groups were also created in each of the 8 countries identified as “priority” based on the following criteria:
- Are highly dependent on the garment industry;
- have the financial ability to support the industry during the health and economic crisis; and
- have the liquidity needed to support business continuity and payment of worker wages and the level of social protection provision.
The priority countries are Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Pakistan.
The international working group wrote to International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and donors, such as the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund and regional development banks, to request support for the objectives of the Call to Action on behalf of all endorsees. A Task Group has elaborated a comprehensive strategy on how to best approach and demand for funding the IFIs, on matter such as access to credit, unemployment benefits and quick income-support to workers and individuals, no or low-interest short-term loans, tax abatement, duty deferral and fiscal stimulus.
Also, part of this Call to Action is the idea of creatingand scaling-up effective social protection mechanisms.
Roberto Suarez Santos, Secretary General of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), led the brands and employers’ organisations in the first meeting of the International Working Group, which reunited all the endorsees of the Call to Action. This meeting aimed at reviewing the progress made and gathering inputs on the next steps. He highlighted “the significant commitment from the brands, trade unions, employers’ organisations and governments: it is now an ethical engagement and we need to focus on our sense of responsibility”. He continued stating that “this initiative is based on three complementary pillars: engagement; urgency; high expectations. If we want to avoid a humanitarian crisis in countries not well placed to respond to the crisis, we need to find the way to provide income support and at the same time ensure business continuity: these results are expected in the short term. In the middle and long term we need to build institutions that work: social protection based on sustainability and efficiency”.