We recognize that to fulfill our commitment to protect workers’ wellbeing, all stakeholders in the industry need to work together. This is why we have endorsed ILO’s Call to Action on “COVID-19: Action in the Global Garment Industry” which aims to generate actions from across the global garment industry to protect workers’ income, health and employment, and support manufacturers to survive during the COVID-19 crisis. The global action also calls for working together to establish sustainable systems of social protection for a more just and resilient garment industry.
International Labour Organization (ILO) has convened an International Working Group, coordinated by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), including brands and manufacturers, workers and employer organizations and governments, to further elaborate the implementation steps necessary to deliver on these commitments.
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this critical industry requires a global response. IOE has joined this call for action with the aim of supporting business continuity as well as the livelihoods of workers in the garment industry during this disruptive period. This is a voluntary initiative that focuses on mobilizing collective action.”
– Roberto Suarez Santos, Secretary General, IOE
Shahi has been in continuous dialogue with its customers, industry bodies, governments, and experts to adapt to the evolving circumstances and prepare to resume work in factories. Since February 2020, prior to India’s nationwide lockdown imposed on March 24, 2020, we have been taking preventive actions to protect our employees. This includes providing training and awareness on preventing the spread of COVID-19, implementing strict safety guidelines including travel and visitor policies, and thermal temperature checking of all employees at the entry gate. Since April 6, 2020, we have repurposed our factories to produce over 200,000 Hazardous Material (Hazmat) Suits for frontline healthcare professionals who continue to serve us during this testing time.
During the lockdown, we reviewed several best practices and participated in a design-thinking workshop organized by our innovation partner Good Business Lab (GBL), to think through how we can create an anxiety-free workplace once factories reopen. Consolidated ideas from GBL’s workshop can be accessed here. Learnings from this workshop have been incorporated in our work resumption Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for factories. As of May 4, 2020, we have resumed operations in a phased manner in conformity with the Government guidelines. We are following strict safety and hygiene protocols as well as maintaining social distancing.
Full wages for the month of March 2020, including for the lockdown period, were paid on time. We have also paid full wages for the entire lockdown month of April 2020 in two tranches, the first prior to May 12, 2020, and the second prior to May 25, 20201. All the workers were informed in advance about this payment process. This approach has been adopted to tide over cash flow issues faced during the nationwide lockdown.
Some of Shahi’s migrant workers stay in the residential facilities managed by Janodaya Trust, a Non-Governmental Organization. We have been working along with the Janodaya team to ensure stringent compliance with preventive measures, access to daily essentials, regular check-ups, counseling, and engagement activities. Janodaya has also set up an emergency isolation building for the residents. Now, with the cross-border movement restrictions lifted in the country, the Shahi team along with Janodaya and local police authorities has been facilitating the process of arranging travel for those who want to go back to their native places.
The core aim of our COVID-19 response plan is ensuring wellbeing – of our 120,000+ employees, their families, and extended communities such as healthcare professionals. We welcome and endorse ILO’s Call to Action. We believe that collaboration is critical to building collective resilience in this unprecedented crisis. We encourage all brands, manufacturers, industry bodies, and partners to endorse the Call to Action and join the fight against this crisis.”
-Srinivasa Rao Venkatesh, Chief Compliance Officer, Shahi Exports
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1 This strategy was implemented by offering ex-gratia wages to all Shahi workers who returned to the factory on or before May 18, 2020 (two weeks after the factories officially re-opened). As a result, 80% of Shahi workers received their wage for April 2020 based on their attendance before the cut-off date. We did not lay off any workers and have welcomed back all workers who wish to resume working.