With brick-and-mortar retail stores shut down around the globe due to COVID-19, apparel companies are cancelling production orders left and right. Bangladesh, which was already set to lose 6 billion dollars in revenue from cancelled orders, is finally seeing just how that will effect them. Factory workers who showed up to work this week found that many of their factories were closed, and they were ordered to return home and stay there.
Workers are voicing concerns over lost wages, which only stands to hinder the economics and crush the already poverty rampant country. The majority of workers were either temporarily laid off or put on leave, but there were some that were permanently let go. The apparel industry makes up 80 percent of Bangladesh's imports, employing over 4 million people. Bangladesh had been able to grow its economy through wage workers, most of whom are employed in these garment factories.
Like many other countries around the globe, Bangladesh's government issued a nationwide shutdown to help combat coronavirus that is set to be in place until April 14. Some factory workers were called back to work already, but many showed up to work to find that they were going to be temporarily laid off. Other factories are expected to resume regular operations after April 14.
Garment industry workers are advocating for the government to pay workers who can longer afford to feed themselves and their families. Bangladesh's Ministry of Labour and Employment asked garment factory workers to not lay off employees and pay them full wages for March by April 12, but it won't be until the end of this week before it is seen as to whether or not those demands are met.