The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the power imbalance between buyers and suppliers.

Ripped at the seams: Ready-made garment sector workers in a global pandemic

  • Apparel
  • ,


    The ready-made garment (RMG) industry employs millions of workers in India and Bangladesh. Garment workers are vulnerable to forced labor due to high rates of poverty, the fragmented and informal nature of textile supply chains, and lack of enforcement of legal protections for workers.

    Though the apparel sector has long come under criticism for poor working conditions, sexual harassment, forced labor, and workplace health and safety issues, the COVID-19 pandemic further exposed major, existing flaws in the global garment supply chain.

    This policy brief presents findings from a rapid assessment conducted to assess the multi-faceted impacts of COVID-19 on RMG sector workers in India and Bangladesh. The research has an emphasis on the increased risk of forced labor among vulnerable working populations.

    Key Findings

    1. COVID-19 is exposing the power imbalance between buyers and suppliers
    2. RMG workers, particularly women, migrants, and informal workers are especially vulnerable
    3. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in the risk of forced labor
    For more details and recommendations for action, download the briefing.

    Interested in even more information? Download the full report for more details on findings, implications, and methodology.

    *This brief was prepared with support from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of FCDO or GFEMS

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