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Garment workers to benefit from German-funded programme

Germany will provide 14.5 million euros to help two million garment workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic in seven countries including Laos, according to the Ecotextile News.

The financial support will be granted through an International Labour Organisation (ILO) programme which should enable workers in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Madagascar, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos to minimise the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.
As part of its Emergency Covid-19 Support Programme, the multi-donor initiative provides cash transfers and personal protective equipment, as well as awareness-raising campaigns.
Over 26,000 workers in textile factories in Laos have been affected by the ongoing global health and economic crisis, according to the Association of Lao Garment Industry (ALGI).
ALGI president Xaybandith Rasphone told Vientiane Times recently that the pandemic was having a huge impact on Laos’ garment industry.
“Garment exports have fallen by 40-50 percent so far this year,” he said, adding that the sharp decline had forced many factories to reduce or temporarily suspend their operations.
As a result, many garment workers have had their work hours reduced or been laid off. A large number of employees, particularly women, have lost essential income even as living costs spiral, increasing the burdens they carry and making it harder for them to survive. 
Ninety percent of Lao garment workers are women. Under the Germany-funded programme, young mothers and workers particularly at risk of falling into poverty will receive one-off support payments.
Of the total 14.5 million euros, about 1.7 million euros will be spent on the programme in Laos in which garment workers will indirectly and directly benefit from the initiative, according to Mr Xaybandith.
All garment factories in Laos had taken a hit from shrinking demand and the drop in orders placed by their main buyers in the European Union, Japan, the United States and Canada, he added. In 2016, the value of garment exports stood at US$174.23 million, which was down by 7.25 percent compared to the figure for 2014. However, in 2018, the value climbed to US$185 million.
“We have not finished our report on garment exports for 2019 but we have been suffering from the effects of Covid-19 this year,” Mr Xaybandith said.
ILO Deputy Director-General for field operations and partnership, Moussa Oumarou, was quoted in the Ecotextile News as saying “A key lesson from Covid-19 is that it is essential to immediately support businesses in their efforts to survive and the workers that lose jobs and income. Such immediate humanitarian support must be part of the longer-term plan to build back better.”
According to the ILO report, the multi-donor programme’s integrated strategy is designed to assist both workers and private sector businesses to rebuild their economic activities, mitigate further interruptions in the supply chain, and provide direct support to garment sector workers, especially women in the seven target countries.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update
September 16,

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