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18 Jul 2021

New report alleges garment workers lost almost $12bn in wages and severance from March 2020 through March 2021

The Clean Clothes Campaign released a new report, titled "Still Un(der)paid", that draws on research in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, alleging that garment workers lost USD 11.85 billion from March 2020 to March 2021 in unpaid wages and severance.

A previous report from the same organisation, "Un(der)paid in the Pandemic" estimated that garment workers globally had lost between US$3.2 and US$5.8 billion between just March and May 2020. The combined effect of health risks, government policy and business decisions drove prices down and increased payment terms significantly in 2021, over the previous years. In some cases, suppliers also accepted below cost prices for orders, indicating the level of economic hardship in production countries. Brands responded to the report claiming that they were responsible in their sourcing and full payments were made.

Labour rights campaigners are calling for brands to negotiate and implement a binding agreement on wages, severance, and basic labour rights.to ensure better safeguards for workers and improvements in purchasing practices.

This report adds to the growing body of evidence and research (see, for example, "Fired, then Robbed", a report by the Worker Rights Consortium and "Wage Theft and Pandemic Profits" by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre) showing that despite making profits, garment brands allegedly failed to protect the workers in their supply chains and their purchasing practices actively contributed to their worsening conditions.

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