As Covid-19 lockdowns took hold in March, many retailers canceled orders, refusing payment and leaving global suppliers burdened with finished stock, an estimated $40 billion in unpaid contracts, and no means to pay garment workers’ wages. After Remake’s #PayUp social media campaign recouped $22 billion of these unpaid contracts, the fashion advocacy nonprofit is launching PayUp Fashion, an actionable manifesto for the fashion industry, with garment workers taking center stage.
A report based on a survey of 316 Bangladesh suppliers issued by Pennsylvania State University academic Mark Anner at the end of March found that half of Bangladesh suppliers had the bulk of their in-process or completed orders canceled. Many buyers cited force majeure clauses to justify their withdrawal, despite contractual obligations to pay. Where orders were canceled and buyers refused to cover material and production costs, 58 percent of factories had to shut down most or all of their operations, and one million workers were furloughed or fired. Seventy-two percent of furloughed workers were sent home without pay, while 80 percent of dismissed workers were denied the severance pay they are legally entitled to.