Support the ActionAid #PayYourWorkers campaign for garment industry workers

April 28, 2021: April 24 was the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, when an eight-storey garment factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring another 2,500 workers, almost all women and girls.

It’s a reminder of the unsafe conditions endured by garment workers globally – mainly women. Eight years on, women garment workers are still campaigning for their rights.

So this week, ActionAid launched its #PayYourWorkers campaign for Nike to pay its workers everywhere properly, including at Violet Apparel in Cambodia.

And COVID-19 has made their situation worse.

Before the pandemic, women garment workers were already being paid some of the lowest wages in the world, enduring terrible working conditions like backbreaking hours, and threats of violence and harassment. Trade agreements without commitments to workers’ rights contribute to intense global competition and a race-to-the-bottom on working conditions.

When COVID-19 hit, brands rushed to maximise profits by cancelling and refusing to pay for completed and in-production orders, and pressuring factories to give discounts.

Factories were forced to close. Women garment workers lost their jobs and were robbed of their legally-entitled wages and other benefits, making a bad situation even worse. Women are struggling to feed themselves and their families, and brands like Nike have turned their backs on them.

As part of the #PayYourWorkers campaign, over 200 organisations, including ActionAid Australia, have come together to demand that big fashion brands like Nike take action so that garment workers do not have to face this crisis alone.

Nike made a whopping $1 billion in profit in just three months. Nike can and should support the women who make their clothes and shoes through this crisis.

In the past, workers and labour rights organisations campaigned for a year and pushed Nike to pay nearly 2,000 workers over US$1.5 million in severance – the payout you’re legally entitled to when your job is terminated. The campaign aims to do this again.