The cancellations include about $50m in orders from Bangladeshi factories and $100m from Korea
Up to 500,000 garment workers in Bangladesh could lose their jobs in June, if brands like US clothing retailer Kohl’s did not live up to their commitments to pay for ordered stock that was in production when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Clothing companies say Kohl’s announced its decision to cancel all orders it had already placed with its global suppliers in a conference call on March 22, reports the Guardian.
The cancellations include about $50m in orders from Bangladeshi factories and $100m from Korea. Kohl’s reportedly took the decision unilaterally and without consulting with suppliers, some of whom had been working with the company for over 20 years.
Kohls has also furloughed 85,000 of its staff in the US and shuttered 1,159 of its stores. On April 1, the $2.16 billion company paid out $109m in dividends to its shareholders.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Rubana Huq said similar actions by other brands has already led to the loss of thousands of jobs and factory closures in the country.
“Brands like Kohl’s say they care about workers, and use their big name to talk about ethical sourcing. But it is a lie,” said Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity founder Kalpona Akter, as quoted by the Guardian.
“They cancel orders and refuse to pay for orders produced. When we need them most, they turn their backs. They need to do the right thing. They need to pay their bills,” she added.
The Korean Federation of Textile Industries has also sent a letter to Kohl’s, asking the company to honour existing agreements.
Kohl’s also sources clothing from other countries, including Haiti, Vietnam and India.