The challenge for workers

Covid-19 has made it clear that the challenges faced by workers in the global fashion industry are urgent and only getting worse. It has showed us just how vulnerable workers are, how unreliable manufacturers are, and how limited the care of many countries is for the safety of their citizens.

The issues of the global fashion industry are interwoven, meaning there are no quick fixes. We need more than just one company to change things – we need a whole world.

One of the biggest issues garment workers face is the total lack of a safety net. In New Zealand, we have legislation that sets out how employers have to treat employees and we have systems in place to uphold employee rights. Our country also has public healthcare and education systems. These basic necessities aren’t provided in most major garment manufacturing countries.

Most garment workers barely earn enough to survive from pay-check to pay-check, so savings have long been out of the question. Because of this, a shock like Covid-19 leaves workers without the ability to provide the basics for themselves and their families.

Industry response

We know that these challenges are extremely difficult for any fashion company to tackle by themselves, especially at a time where they are facing their own internal challenges. But we also know that companies have a duty of care to those in their supply chains.

It’s deeply important that companies do what they can to protect workers from the immediate impacts of Covid-19. We desperately need collaboration across companies and manufacturers, through to unions and governments, so that we can start to address together issues that no one company can tackle alone.

Collaboration – among companies, manufacturers, unions, governments and civil society through multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) – is essential in addressing big issues. One of the new global MSIs to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis is the International Labour Organisation’s Call to Action, which brings together all sorts of different people - worker and union bodies, fashion companies and employers, national governments, non-government organisations, and international financial institutions. It’s hugely encouraging to report that 27 of the companies covered by our research have signed on to the Call to Action.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Recent posts

Methodology at a Glance: how we grade brands in the Ethical Fashion Guide

Methodology at a Glance: how we grade brands in the Ethical Fashion Guide

Tuesday, 12 October 2021 — Tearfund New Zealand

If you've ever wondered what makes one brand an A+ and another an F, then this is a must-read!   

 

Read more

The Modern Slavery Challenge

The Modern Slavery Challenge

Tuesday, 12 October 2021 — Tearfund New Zealand

Every year NZ $184 billion of clothing produced by forced labour is imported into countries like New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Modern slavery is rife within the production of clothing, but why? 

 

Read more

The Climate Challenge

The Climate Challenge

Tuesday, 12 October 2021 — Tearfund New Zealand

Consumption of clothing has increased 400% in the past two decades, with 80 billion garments purchased annually around the world. The truth is, our planet can no longer keep up. 

 

Read more

The Covid-19 Challenge

The Covid-19 Challenge

Tuesday, 12 October 2021 — Tearfund New Zealand

Shoppers are eagerly returning to malls and many countries are getting used to a new “normal”, but Covid-19 continues to put the people who make our clothes at risk. 

 

Read more

Living Wage—what it is, the complexities and the path forward.

Living Wage—what it is, the complexities and the path forward.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021 — Tearfund New Zealand

According to Oxfam, it takes just four days for a CEO of one of the top five fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in their entire lifetime. The question remains...why don’t these profits reach the workers?

 

Read more

Resources

Resources

Tuesday, 12 October 2021 — Tearfund New Zealand

If you want to learn more about everything ethical fashion then this is the page for you! We've got loads of resources you can use below. 

 

Read more

Fibre and Fabric Impact Guide

Fibre and Fabric Impact Guide

Tuesday, 27 October 2020 — Tearfund New Zealand

Understand what your clothing is made from and how to reduce your environmental impact.

Read more

Show more