market that the global garment industry represents, brands often function as de facto employers, dictating prices and production circumstances. Many factories (except for several very rich factory groups) have operated for years on minimal margins and have not built up buffers to now fall back on, while they have fronted the costs for the brands’ orders before they were cancelled. Brands, (r)etailers have been the primary pro t-makers in these supply chains. Many well-known garment companies are owned by billionaires, including Inditex, Bestseller, C&A, and Uniqlo, who could cover their workers’ wages out of pocket. Brands have a responsibility under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance to prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts in their supply chains, and to remedy harm they have contributed to or caused. Does the wage assurance cover workers who are in (partial) lockdown, furloughed, or whose hours have been reduced, as well as those that have continued or returned to work? A ‘cut-off’ point will need to be established by country, indicating for what period of the crisis wages need to be ensured by brands and retailers. This will depend on when government-imposed lockdowns have ended entirely. Within that period the wage assurance will cover all workers: those who continued to work and those that were sent home either full-time or part-time because of lockdowns, lack of orders, or social distancing measures. What about workers whose hours have been reduced? In several countries governments have created special measures allowing employers to reduce hours and pay, as a means of avoiding banktrupcy. Given the lack of social security systems, this means in most cases that workers and their families have to live off less then the legal minimum wage. Brands that commit to wage assurance commit to make up the shortfall between what workers have been paid, and the income they received at the onset of the crisis. How does this relate to the ILO Call to Action? The wage assurance builds on the outcomes foreseen in the ILO Call to Action. Under that program, loans will be secured to enable employers to pay wages, and/or to enable governments to provide facilities that will enable employers to pay wages, or to pay income directly to workers. That is a good thing, but it is not the same as ensuring funds are used for the actual payment of wages, or ensuring that these are paid in full. The ILO Call to Action does not set any monetary targets , nor does it provide an enforcement mechanism or consequences for signatory brands if workers in their supply chain do not receive income support. Many major brands have committed to this program, as have all of the major multistakeholder initiatives. The more successful the program is, the smaller the gap left outstanding, and the less brands will have to pay. Ten months after the launch of the ILO Call to Action, just a woefully small amount, estimated at 200 million USD, in income relief has been unlocked. A very small portion of that money has reached garment workers. In comparison, estimates are that garment workers lost at least 3 billion USD in the rst three months of the pandemic. The ILO Call to Action only covers eight countries. Nearly a year into the pandemic, workers in those countries and all around the world are facing hunger and desperation and must be paid what they are owed.

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