MANILA - The International Labor Organization said Thursday the garment industry in the Asia Pacific region suffered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with reduced demand from countries that imposed the strictest lockdowns.
The recent ILO report called "The supply chain ripple effect: How COVID-19 is affecting garment workers and factories in Asia and the Pacific" assessed the impact of the pandemic in 10 countries in the region including the Philippines.
Imports from major countries buying from Asia dropped by 70 percent in the first half of 2020 due to "collapsing demand," lockdowns and disruptions in raw materials, the report said.
The region employs an estimated 65 million garment sector workers in 2019 or 75 percent of all garment workers worldwide, the ILO said.
As of September 2020, almost half of all jobs in the garment supply chains were dependent on consumers living in countries with the most stringent lockdowns where retail sales have plummeted, it added.
“The typical garment worker in the region lost out on at least two to four weeks of work and saw only three in five of her co-workers called back to the factory when it reopened," ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific labor economist Christian Viegelahn, said.
The Philippines, China, India and Sri Lanka posted the largest percentage decreases in exports, the report said. Total combined imports to the US, EU and Japan to the 10 apparel and footwear producing countries in Asia also "fell significantly" between January and June 2020, the ILO said.
The ILO report also noted that insufficient or delayed payments to workers led to protests in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Indonesia, among others.
Dialogues have, however, strengthened crisis responses, the ILO said.
The ILO recommended the need for continued support for enterprises and the extension of social protection for workers, especially women, as well as an "industry-wide" solidarity in addressing the pandemic.