Like many people in Canada and the US, the pandemic has left tens of thousands of garment workers jobless, and even worse, without any financial relief. Many factories have not given full severance pay to workers they laid off in 2020. The Workers Rights Consortium estimates that factories owe garment workers approximately $40 M in severance pay (2021). This situation reflects the second-degree impact of the decisions that brands and retailers have in their supply chains.
The way we make our products is different. We make small-batch collections and work closely with seamstresses throughout the process. During her visits, Nurjahan, our founder, is either picking up fabrics or at the workshop learning from pattern cutters and seamstresses. Our last visit was in Januray 2020, and we can't wait to make a new collection with our extended family.
From April to June 2020, the garment industry in Bangladesh went through a massive wave of layoffs. Since the pandemic hit Bangladesh, a million workers were let go, and now a third of them are working in the industry again (Penn State 2020). We sent funds to nine workers during this period to help them weather the storm. We care for the wellbeing of everyone who has a hand in making our products, especially the garment workers on who we focus our impact. We were certain that our extended family needed our support during this rough period - we sent them $60 a month to cover basic home and food expenses for three to four months, depending on their situation.
Garment workers live on a limited monthly wage, so they cannot afford to save money for emergencies like this. Most of their income goes into housing and food expenses that contribute to the small economies in their communities. These grassroots economies are based on relationships that look after each other in times of hardship. During the wave of layoffs, garment workers relied on their communities for support with loans and increases in debit accounts with their grocer, food vendors, landlords.
Garment workers have two traits that inspire us: resiliency and adaptability. A big thank you to those who helped us send funds during these times. You know who you are, and we hope to reunite in a summer event soon.
https://www.workersrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Fired-Then-Robbed.pdf Workers Right Consortium 2021
https://www.workersrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Abandoned-Penn-State-WRC-Report-March-27-2020.pdf Penn State Center for Global Workers Rights 2020