ETI call to action on Sri Lanka crisis
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948. The collapse of the economy has resulted in power blackouts, widespread protests and severe shortages of fuel, food and medicine. While a new president has taken office, the situation continues, and protests remain ongoing.
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has been engaging with its member companies operating in the Sri Lankan textiles industry, the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), Fair Wear Foundation, Fair Labor Association and British Retail Consortium, to understand better the impact on workers.
Together, these organisations have signed a joint call to action, encouraging companies sourcing from Sri Lanka to take the following steps to support workers, suppliers and the sector a large:
- Ensure there’s a clear understanding of the risk to workers in the current situation.
- Maintain regular communications with suppliers to understand their current situation and ensure timely payment of orders.
- Avoid cancellation of orders and assure suppliers of business continuity for the time being.
- Ensure all pending wages and severance payments are paid to all employees and workers.
- Review negotiated prices and ensure future price negotiations include the increase in costs for energy, other raw materials and labour exposed to inflation.
- Engage with unions and suppliers to explore innovative remedial solutions to support workers.
- Work collaboratively to consider other actions to improve respect for human rights in the context of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis.
Over 17% of Sri Lanka's exports are produced by the tea industry, which directly and indirectly supports around a million people. While these recommendations target companies within the apparel and textile industry, tea companies should also ensure they are up-to-date with the situation and its effects within their supply chains and play their part in protecting livelihoods during this difficult period.