The impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on leather workers in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the garment and footwear industry, particularly on workers. The Corona chronicles bring to light the dramatic consequences of the crisis on leather workers in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India by portraying six of them. They speak about their experiences during the first lockdowns in 2020 and how the pandemic has affected them in terms of employment, livelihoods, rights, and how they fear for the future.

Millions of people worldwide work to produce leather garments, leather footwear and leather accessories. This global production network includes various phases, from animal husbandry to slaughter; from the tanning of raw hides to the finishing of leather; from the cutting of leather components to the production of a wide variety of leather end-goods, such as jackets, trousers, shoes, gloves, bags, trunks, and accessories.

With the coronavirus outbreak, production came to an abrupt halt. The international transport system, including container shipping, was completely upset. Supply chains were disrupted due to a lack of inputs and later on by the cancellation of orders by brands and retailers.

The six stories in this paper – composed by SOMO – were selected from a substantial number of interviews conducted by BLF in June 2020 in Bangladesh, by Cividep in July 2020 in India, and by NOW Communities in September 2020 in Pakistan. Both Cividep and BLF have published reports and analyses about the impacts of coronavirus on garment and leather workers in India and Bangladesh.

Added to these worker testimonies, the paper presents a set of recommendations to governments and businesses, to ensure better protection of workers’ rights.

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Trends in production and trade: Leather products from Bangladesh

Bangladesh produces leather and leather goods such as shoes, belts, bags, suitcases, wallets and to a minor extent leather apparel. The leather and leather goods industry is the country’s the second largest export-earning industry. In particular, Bangladesh has emerged as an important producer of leather footwear for the international market. This overview of trends in the production of leather and leather goods in Bangladesh collates information on the main products produced in Bangladesh, and on important export markets for its leather and leather goods. The report further maps key Bangladesh-based leather manufacturers and foreign buying companies.

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Trends in production and trade: Leather products from India

The leather sector in India takes up a prominent place in the country’s economy. It is known for its high consistency in export earnings and is placed in the top 10 of foreign exchange earners for India. This overview of trends in the production of leather and leather goods in India bundles together information on key products produced in India, as well as key export markets for its leather and leather goods. The report maps key leather manufacturers and buying companies.

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Trends in production and trade: Leather products from Pakistan

The leather and leather goods industry is of considerable importance to the Pakistan economy. It is one of the five key export-oriented sectors for the country. This overview of trends in the production of leather and leather goods in Pakistan bundles together information on key products produced in Pakistan, as well as key export markets for its leather and leather goods. The report maps key leather manufacturers and buying companies.

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Corona analysis Bangladesh

In this analysis BLF has evaluated the current overall conditions in the Tannery Sector in Bangladesh as a whole and specifically the conditions of the tannery workers since the outbreak of the Corona Pandemic.

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