Hunger and Debt in Apparel Supply Chain According to New Report



In November, the Worker Rights Consortium released the report, Hunger in the Apparel Supply Chain: Survey findings on workers’ access to nutrition during COVID-19, which presents the findings of a survey of garment workers conducted by the WRC in collaboration with Dr Genevieve LeBaron, Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield.

The survey aims to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting repercussions throughout garment supply chains on the food security of workers. 

The WRC interviewed nearly 400 garment workers located in nine garment exporting countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Lesotho and Myanmar) and found that more than 75% of workers and their families have gone hungry and are accumulating debt in order to buy food since the beginning of the pandemic.  

The report mentions low wages in brands’ supply chains, brands’ responses to the crisis (especially the cancellation of orders), as well as insufficient government support and missing social protection floors in apparel exporting countries, as some of the key factors contributing to the increase in poverty among garment workers and consequential food insecurity.

In the report, the WRC recommends that apparel companies and the governments of the countries in which they are headquartered immediately take stock of how companies’ responses to the pandemic are impacting suppliers and workers. Both governments and companies should take immediate action to address the dynamics leading to hunger and reduced nutrition. Detailed recommendations are mentioned in the report.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, amfori has called upon businesses to do their utmost to maintain Responsible Buying Practices. To support these efforts, we have prepared guidance for businesses to share and implement.

In addition, amfori has released Living Wage Journey: Taking Stock and Setting the Way Forward, which reconfirms amfori’s commitment to advancing living wages in its members’ global supply chains.

Our briefing on a living wage serves as a critical reflection on our journey on the topic to date. It outlines the steps we have taken so far, the lessons we have learned, the challenges that remain and the actions that we will take, alongside our members and stakeholders, to work towards the implementation of a living wage in global supply chains.

As a first deliverable on our commitment to, ‘Raise awareness and build capacity among businesses,’ we held a webinar on ‘Living Wage: Moving from Commitment to Implementation in Global Supply Chains’ in October and two online trainings for amfori members on ‘Basics on Living Wage’ and ‘Due Diligence in Costing and Implementation’ in December.

The webinar and training slides and recordings can be accessed on the amfori Academy free of charge for amfori members:

Further reading