EU grants £92bn in Covid-19 aid for garment workers in Bangladesh (Photo: MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP via Getty Images).
Radhakrishna N S
EU countries will contribute more than £92 million to a Bangladeshi welfare programme to aid thousands of garment workers hit by job losses and pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said on Thursday (10).
Under Bangladesh’s new social protection programme, workers in the garment, leather and footwear industries will initially be given monthly cash aid of £27 for three months, an EU statement said.
Bangladesh’s EU Ambassador Rensje Teerink said: “By providing income support to workers in key export sectors who lost their job, (the) programme for unemployed and distressed workers responds to an immediate need to protect livelihoods”.
Cancelled clothing orders have caused wage losses of up to £4.4 billion among garment workers worldwide, according to pressure group Clean Clothes Campaign.
The country’s largest trade body for garment owners in August said at least 70,000 garment workers had lost their jobs, but unions think the true figure is likely far higher.
The total number of potential beneficiaries is not yet known because the Bangladeshi government has not received a list of affected workers from trade bodies.
A government official said the social protection programme would likely be maintained when the EU funding runs out.
“This financial support is the first phase of the social safety programme. We have plans to continue this programme with other development partners and our own funding,” said Mizanur Rahman from the Department of Labour.
Union leaders criticised the government, however, for billing the programme as part of a social safety net, calling for long-term state policies to protect workers.