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. You can support the #payup petition to change this mistreatment. The Workers Rights Consortium estimates that garment factories owe their workers approximately $40 M in severance pay (2021). This situation reflects the second-degree impact of the decisions that brands and retailers make 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 January 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, a million workers were let go, and now a third of them are back in the industry again (Penn State 2020). The same has occurred in other places like Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Los Angeles. This article by #Remake has more information about the situation of garment workers around the world.
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, and we sent nine workers $60 a month to cover basic home and food expenses for three to four months, depending on their situation.
Seamstresses have 2 inspiring traits: Resiliency and adaptability.
Garment workers live on a limited monthly wage that isn't enough to save money for emergencies like the pandemic. Most of their income is spent on basic 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, many garment workers relied on their communities for support with loans and increases in credit with their grocers and food vendors.
And last but not least, 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.