600,000 garment workers in PH may face unemployment due to pandemic — UN agency

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — With the sharp decline in global exports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 600,000 workers in the Philippine garment industry are at risk of losing their jobs, a United Nations agency said.

“The #COVID19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the Philippine garment industry, cutting exports by almost 40% to major buyer countries and putting the livelihoods and employment of more than 600,000 workers at risk,” the International Labor Organization (ILO) said in its Facebook page referring to the study released Wednesday.

The study assessed the pandemic’s impact on 10 major garment-producing nations in Asia and the Pacific.

“The largest percentage decreases in exports were observed in China, India, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka,” it said.

In the first half, the decline in consumer demand and lockdowns led to widespread factory closures — both temporary and indefinite — and mass layoffs of workers in the region, the ILO said.

“Among those still employed in the second quarter of 2020, declines in earnings and delays in wage payments were also common,” the report read.

While a number of factories shifted to face mask production, the ILO said the increase in mask exports still did not offset the decline in garment orders.

“The depth of those declines and the speed and shape of the eventual recovery in the sector will likely not be (fully) visible until 2021 or 2022,” it added.

Given the scale of the economic disruption, the organization called on national governments to continue extending aid to enable enterprises survive the pandemic, such as through emergency relief funds, credit and short-term loans.

Around 65 million people in Asia Pacific are employed in the garment sector, accounting for 75 percent of all garment workers worldwide, the study said.