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April 21, 2024
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Coping with COVID-19 – Lesson from the Ethiopian garment and textile industry

The ILO Program on Advancing Decent Work and Sustainable Industrialization (SIRAYE) conducted the second webinar series with over 20 factories across Ethiopia in order to discuss factory activities to deter COVID-19 and enhance the well-being of workers.

Much of the factories felt the shock of the effects of Covid-19 with a steady fall in global consumer demand. The shock was particularly felt as Ethiopia began registering COVID-19 virus cases as of March 13, 2020 as some employees stopped working in fear of being contaminated and factories briefly shut down to establish or implement prevention measures and schedule business continuity.

Three months later, factories in Ethiopia are implementing the new model with stringent steps in place to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and to protect occupational protection and health while factory activities begin.

Measures taken by factories to prevent the spread of the virus

As factories continue to work in the light of the outbreak of the virus, employers are introducing different steps to provide staff with the necessary knowledge and minimize the spread of the virus in factories.

Awareness raising: Various steps have been taken by factories to increase awareness of the general existence of the virus and to take protective measures. This is achieved through consulting sessions with company administrators, using plant overhead speakers and using display materials such as posters and flyers.

Enforcing Social Distancing: In order to ensure social distancing in assembly lines, conference centers, canteens and transport facilities, factories have restructured their organizational structure. Steps such as ensuring the required space between routes, installing more canteen tables and chairs to discourage staff from seating next to each other, raising the number of transport buses while reducing the number of passengers per bus by half.

Disinfection and fumigation: Before entering and exiting the workplace, employees are required to frequently wash their hands and clean their shoes. Hand and shoe washing and disinfection stations have been set up by manufacturers, hand sanitizers and masks have been provided, equipment fumigation and utility cleaning have been done. Disinfection booths / tunnels have already been planned and set up by several factories.

temperature tests: In order to track the well-being of staff, temperature tests at the entrance gates and random temperature tests during operating hours are also carried out. While most factories have stated that they are not sure what steps they need to take in the event of suspicious incidents, one factory has set up a suspect quarantine center to separate suspects before the appropriate stakeholder takes over. The period of maternity leave from 4 months to 6 months has now been extended by another plant.

As the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed is rising in Ethiopia, it is difficult to forecast how the garment and apparel industry will look in a few months. Although partnering closely with business stakeholders to ensure safety and health at work, the ILO Siraye program will continue to provide its services to factories through virtual advisory visits and training.

Source: https://www.ilo.org

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