“About 4.1 million people work in apparel factories in Bangladesh, the world’s No. 2 garment exporter after China. The South Asian country is just beginning to feel the direct impact of the pandemic. But the shocks to its export markets have been cascading into its economy for weeks.
The disruptions from the virus outbreak are straining a fragile supply chain in which big buyers have been squeezing their suppliers for years. The government, having offered huge tax incentives to entice manufacturers and buyers to move to Bangladesh, has scant resources to help protect workers.
More than 1 million garment workers in Bangladesh already have lost their jobs or have been furloughed because of order cancellations and the failure of buyers to pay for canceled shipments.
In a video message, its president, Rubana Huq, urged global buyers including H&M and Wal-Mart to not cancel orders and to accept those already finished or under production.
“We will have 4.1 million workers literally going hungry if we don’t all step up to a commitment to the welfare of the workers,” Huq said.
“One thing is very clear, our foremost responsibility was towards our workers. We are a manufacturing country, our reality and your reality is totally different, but it is not a time to point out differences, it’s a time through which we need to work together,” she said.”
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