COVID-19 and the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries

The world of work is facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 100-year history of the International Labour Organization (ILO) – one that is spreading human suffering, damaging the global economy and disrupting people’s lives.

As efforts to mitigate the public health emergency intensify, the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has had an immense impact on all social and economic sectors, including the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear (TCLF) industries. Quarantine measures, closure of retail stores, illness, and salary reductions have suppressed consumer demand.1 At the same time, this highly globalized sector is also struggling with severe supply-side disruption; as workers are told to stay at home, supply chains grind to a halt and factories close.

In addition to the health risks posed by the virus, the economic impact on the industries has affected the business and livelihoods of employers and workers alike. Factory and retail closures around the world have threatened the viability of enterprises and led to workers being suspended or losing their jobs altogether. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), a vital source of employment and growth in the industry, are likely to suffer the greatest impact of this global crisis.

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