Workforce News From Around the World

Updated: Sep 16

By SPESA


When SPESA members and event attendees discuss workforce development, it is often very U.S.-focused, discussing domestic worker training or reshoring. However, it is obviously an issue that stretches as far and wide as sewn product supply chains. Below are a few examples of recent workforce-related news from around the globe.

Australia The Australian government has launched an online register for modern slavery statements, which it hopes will significantly increase information available about modern slavery in global supply chains. Under the Modern Slavery Act 2018, which entered into force in January 2019, large businesses in the Australian market are required to identify and address their modern slavery risks and maintain responsible and transparent supply chains. Read More.

Bangladesh After months of struggling with Covid-19 and canceled orders, the Bangladesh textile industry had a sharp rebound in August, with exports surging nearly 50% as factories swung into full gear to meet orders from global retailers. Reports from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) state that some companies are now looking to hire (or rehire) thousands of workers to cope with new orders. Read more.


In March, nearly a million Bangladeshi garment workers were laid off or furloughed. A digital mapping technology that tracks the development of ready-made garment (RMG) factories in Bangladesh revealed 9% of facilities surveyed have permanently closed following the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more. Burundi In an effort to grow the East African nation of Burundi’s agriculture industry, which is accountable for 90% of the country’s exports, a new development plan has been unveiled that will center on training female workers in garment manufacture. Read more.


Cambodia Labor unions in Cambodia are calling for a minimum wage increase of almost US$12 ahead of discussions with factory and government representatives that will determine the base salary for the country's apparel and footwear industry workers for 2021. Read more.


Germany The German government postponed a cabinet meeting scheduled to take place this week to discuss the proposed Supply Chain Act requiring companies to ensure human rights and social minimum standards are met in their supply chains. The bill was reportedly blocked by the country’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The cabinet is now scheduled to meet on September 9th. Read more.

Guatemala Employment in the Guatemalan apparel sector is down 60% from pre-pandemic levels, and more than two dozen factories could close this year as suppliers seek cheaper production outposts in Nicaragua, Haiti, or Vietnam. Read more.


Indonesia

Employers and workers in Indonesia’s apparel and footwear industries signed a commitment in August promoting occupational health and safety compliance as well as social dialogues to overcome common employment issues. Read more.

Myanmar Child labor and audit deception are among the top ongoing challenges in Myanmar’s apparel factories, according to a new investigation. Transparentem, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that investigates labor and environmental abuses, recently undertook a multi-year investigation of three garment factories exporting to global retailers and importers. Read More.

The Philippines Approximately 30% of the Philippines apparel workforce is expected to be furloughed through the end of 2020 due to decreased demand caused by Covid-19. Read more.


This news follows previous June 2020 reports from labor unions in the country that more than 20,000 workers in the textile, apparel, and leather goods sectors had been laid off. However, the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines — the same group that reported the 30% furlough — has also stated that manufacturers in the country have invested $35 million to repurpose their factories to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and save the jobs of 7,450 workers. Read more.


Uzbekistan The U.S. 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report noted that Uzbekistan has taken steps to address the use of forced labor in its cotton sector, opening the door to a possible new agreement to re-open the country’s cotton sector to the international market. Read more.


Vietnam Hanoi University of Textile Industry (HTU) is set to lead a training program focusing on upskilling the next generation of textile workers for Industry 4.0. The school has designed specialized textbooks on topics such as technology repair and textile production management, and partnered with businesses to help develop curricula and arrange jobs for graduates. Read More.

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