The COVID-19 crisis has had at least some impact on the livelihoods of 82 percent garment workers in Bangladesh, according to a survey released on Monday.
The survey conducted by South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) and Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) found that most of the respondents migrated from their place of birth for work.
In response to the survey’s questions on the impact of the ongoing pandemic, only 18 percent reported that the Covid-19 crisis has had no impact on their livelihoods while the remaining respondents reported at least some impact.
There is also a sizable minority that has migrated more than once. Around 1,269 workers who are employed in factories in Chittagong, Dhaka City, Gazipur, Narayanganj, and Savar have been participating in the survey.
Over three-quarters of the working respondents are women, which is roughly the representative of gender distribution in the sector as a whole.
The survey asked its respondents about the workers’ control over the earnings they send to their households and found that among those who were able to respond, 58 percent said that it was some other family member while 42 percent said they themselves were the decision makers.
To assess the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic on the overall working and living conditions of garment workers in Bangladesh, SANEM in partnership with MFO have been conducting a series of surveys, with new questions and among slightly changed number of respondents each week.
Some of the questions of this survey were questions supplied to by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a blog report on the survey, published on the website Garment Worker Diaries, noted.
The latest survey explored the dynamics of the workers’ earnings, including who controls how they are spent, and the impact of Covid-19 on their size and frequency, the blog on the survey findings said.
‘Garment Worker Diaries’
The survey found that – 89 percent of respondents reported that they have migrated at least once, for any reason, 91 percent of women reported they had migrated compared to 83 percent of men, 81 percent of migrants said they had migrated for a work-related purpose, 64 percent of those respondents who had migrated for a work-related purpose said they had migrated just once.
Assessing the impact of the Covid-19 on the respondents, the survey found out that 51 percent of respondents said that prior to Covid-19 they had sent money to family members, with 47 percent of women saying they had done so compared to 66 percent of men, 58 percent of those who had sent money to family prior to Covid-19 did so regularly, 33 percent of those who had sent money to family prior to Covid-19 did so occasionally, 69 percent of those transfers were sent to a family member.
The surveys being conducted by SANEM and MFO are part of a project titled “Garment Worker Diaries”. The Garment Worker Diaries collect regular, credible data on the work hours, income, expenses, and financial tool use of workers in the global apparel and textile supply chain in producing countries.
The objective of the project is to have the data inform government policy decisions, collective bargaining, and factory and brand initiatives related to improving the lives of garment workers.
The project began in 2016 when Microfinance Opportunities, a global non-profit, in collaboration with local research firms in Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia, collected data from 180 women in each country every week for a period of a year.
The goal of the project is to collect and disseminate Diaries data in five producing countries by 2021. It is expected that the data will result in a major improvement in the transparency of global supply chains.