United States-based jeans giant Levi Strauss, the world's most famous denim brand, is due to provide cash aid to 1,000 female ready-made garment (RMG) workers of Bangladesh who lost their jobs owing to the pandemic's fallout.
Under Levi's Covid-19 Response for Ready-made Garment Women Workers in Bangladesh programme, each worker would get a cash lump sum of Tk5,000.
A total of 600 apparel workers in Dhaka and 400 workers in Chattogram would get the aid.
Apart from the cash support, 600 more apparel workers – 360 in Dhaka and 240 in Chattogram – would get hygiene kits including soap, detergent and reusable face masks, worth more than Tk1,200 per person.
Non-governmental organisation (NGO) ActionAid Bangladesh would disburse the cash aid and hygiene kits among the workers through its two associates – Safety and Rights Society in Dhaka and Sangsaptak in Chattogram.
The NGO officials said some more workers who have lost their jobs during the pandemic will also be brought under the cash assistance coverage.
Sekender Ali Mina, executive director of Safety and Rights Society, said they will list the project beneficiaries from their RMG workers database. Additionally, they will collect information from the apparel workers.
Mina told The Business Standard that they had already readied 50 volunteers for the aid disbursement. They expect to reach out to the workers with the aid by mid-March.
Levi's sources 3.95 crore pieces of denim from Bangladesh annually, valued at about Tk2,520 crore. It designs and markets jeans, casual wear and related accessories for men, women and children.
The denim brand's Covid-19 response project aims at promoting awareness about Covid-19 safety measures among RMG workers and their families. The Levi Strauss Foundation has promised to provide more support to the country's RMG workers in future.
Levi's promises to support 1,800 more workers
Azadul Islam, the focal person at ActionAid Bangladesh, said Levi's promise them to provide more support depends on the success of the Covid-19 response project.
"A large number of RMG workers have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Many of them joined other factories with lower wages than they used to get. Against this backdrop, ActionAid proposed that Levi's provide cash assistance to more 1,800 workers and hygiene kits to 1000 workers," he added.
Azadul Islam hopes the Levi Strauss Foundation will review the proposal soon.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said such assistance for apparel workers is positive. "Earlier, the European Union also announced such assistance to workers. Such initiatives will encourage others," he added.
The European Union announced €113 million in cash assistance to Bangladeshi workers. Under the programme, each worker is getting cash aid of Tk3,000. A worker will get support for a maximum of three months.