The US apparel and footwear industries have reiterated their steadfast support for the Sri Lankan garment industry during what they refer to as this period of crisis and transition in a letter sent on behalf of buyers to their counterpart association in Sri Lanka, the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF). The organisation commends JAAF and its members for their “relentless efforts” to keep employees employed, safe, and healthy during an unprecedented economic crisis, according to AAFA President and CEO Steve Lamar.
“Your persistent efforts have kept the industry going forward, protected jobs in the garment industry in Sri Lanka, and supported the Sri Lankan economy through these incredibly trying times,”.
Lamar adds the AAFA recognises any significant changes in sourcing during this time could have a major impact on Sri Lanka’s garment industry, the hundreds of thousands of workers the industry employs, their families, and the Sri Lankan economy. Therefore, he says the organisation commits to being cognisant and mindful of the current situation, and the industry’s ongoing commitment to consider the impact on workers, in any sourcing decisions.
“As part of those efforts, we also commit to maintaining regular communications with our partners in Sri Lanka,” he notes, adding the AAFA will work with its suppliers to ensure all payments are made in a timely matter and that all workers are treated in accordance with the law.
Meanwhile, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), Fair Wear Foundation, Fair Labor Association and British Retail Consortium have signed a joint call to action, encouraging companies sourcing from Sri Lanka to take specific steps to support workers, suppliers, and the sector at large, during this difficult period.
The ETI says it has been engaging with economists, industry associations, worker representatives, and member companies operating in Sri Lanka, to better understand implications on workers and the industry at large. These meetings have helped to present a clearer picture of the current crisis and steps stakeholders are taking to alleviate risks to workers and suppliers, it says.
To facilitate a collective response, ETI convened a meeting for all companies sourcing from Sri Lanka to engage with the JAAF. ETI, Fair Wear Foundation, Fair Labor Association and British Retail Consortium reached out to their own members and partners with supply chains in the country. The group is calling for greater support from business and the international community to aid Sri Lanka amid the current economic crisis.