Textile workers in South-East Asia: awareness protects against infection

Textile workers in Myanmar and Cambodia are at particular risk from the coronavirus. Comprehensive awareness campaigns help to increase protection against the pandemic.

In textile factories in Cambodia and Myanmar, space is cramped for workers, most of whom are women. In the current coronavirus pandemic, special protective measures are therefore required if they are to continue working. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the International Labour Organization (ILO), among others, have launched several coronavirus protection campaigns for textile workers. On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the campaigns provide information relating to the coronavirus, infection prevention and labour law.   

The risk of infection begins on the way to work

Most textile workers travel to factories in small trucks. ‘We don't have enough vehicles to maintain a safe distance from one another on the way to work,’ says Moe Wathan, a worker from Myanmar. The journey to work spent sitting closely together in large groups puts them at high risk of infection before work even starts. To reduce the risk of infection in the long term, a special campaign was launched. With GIZ’s support, textile workers and drivers learned about how COVID-19 can spread in enclosed spaces and the protective measures that can help to reduce the risk of transmission.
Using posters and banners on and in the vehicles, together with hygiene measures, 150 factories and more than 120,000 workers have already been reached with this simple and swift approach. More than 9,000 posters and 70,000 flyers focusing on health and rights provided information to workers in factories in Myanmar. Some 30 union representatives received special training to become trainers for health-related topics. In addition, around 4,000 bottles of hand sanitiser and 5,000 of liquid soap were distributed.  

To offer all workers lasting protection from health risks, doctors in Myanmar also looked for safety gaps in the factories. Prevention teams then remedied these issues. 

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