Ethiopia’s garment workers allege workplace abuse

Garment workers at the Hawassa Industrial Parks have told reporters that massive pay cuts and force overtime have become common in the factories located within the park since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. These factories have become short-staffed after furloughing many of their workers during the early months of the pandemic.

Even before the pandemic garment workers at the park were among the lowest paid garment workers in the world according to a Reuters report. Many made less than 30 USD per month.

Workers now allege that bosses, in an attempt to make up for the lost business during the early months of the pandemic, are looking to workers to pick up the slack without compensation. The workers also assert that this is on top of the risk they face of contracting COVID-19.

An unnamed worker told reporters that since she returned from being furloughed she has been working a minimum of six extra hours per week without payment. An experience other women also say has become all too common.

The workers said they worked for manufacturers including KGG Garments PLC and Indochine Apparel PLC, both suppliers of brands like The Children’s Place and Levi Strauss. Officials at both factories denied the allegations and the claim that the factories had shut down.

The General Manager of the park, Fitsum Ketema, also denied the allegations. He said that the park abides by all laws of the country. The Children’s Place and Levi Strauss did not respond to requests for comment.

The Daily Star, Thomson Reuters Foundation

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