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The economic consequences of COVID-19. Women in the textile industry at risk of unemployment

Yesterday, the employees of Vanadzor’s Gloria Garment Factory decided to return to work from forced leave. However, a short time later, the police fined them 100,000 drams for violating the state of emergency.


The couple living in Vanadzor have not been working for about a month. The Gloria garment factory has not been operating since March 25th due to restrictions on the spread of coronavirus. Employees in actual forced labor, including young couple, have not been paid and will not be paid. The needs of the young children, the deadlines for payment for utilities have put them in a difficult social situation.


“We are both registered workers. But we haven’t actually worked for a month, not a single penny has entered our house. We can’t use social assistance programs because we are considered to have jobs, ”the young woman told WomenNet.am.


They will only benefit from the 30% support provided for the paid gas and electricity bills. In the cold city of February, there is no way to consume less  electricity or gas. If they could consume electricity up to 5,000 AMD and gas up to 10,000 AMD, the state would pay 50 percent.


The factory did not pay for the five non-working days of March. They did not work until April 23th, so they will step in May empty-handed. Even if the factory starts working tomorrow, the salary will be paid in a month.


Most of the more than 2,000 employees of the garment factory in the Lori regional center are women. Two days ago, several hundred women came out to the streets to enter the factories, demanding the reopening of the factory and the resumption of work. “We want to work, there is no way. We ask the employer to open the factory, ”they said.


MP Edmon Marukyan raised the issues of the residents of his hometown in the National Assembly, calling to cancel the fines imposed on the employees. He reminded that the Prime Minister said that from April 20th the textile enterprises will work.


“The employees of the factory have not received any support from any other program. The fact that the people say “the hail beats the beaten place” is the case. If it is announced that people should work, then why are they fined? I call for the cancellation of all administrative records drawn up yesterday. We are talking about 2600 people who earn their living. If you don’t let them work, support those people in the right direction, “the opposition figure suggested.


Hovhannes Igityan, a member of the “My Step” faction, considers the protest action of the factory workers from the point of view of healthcare, noting that due to that action the cases of coronavirus outbreak in Vanadzor may increase immediately․


“In two weeks we may have an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Vanadzor. Maybe we have serious numbers, the situation will get out of control. After that, it is pointless to sit here and talk about loans and taxes. I just call on us to be careful with the population to maintain security measures, “Igityan said.


According to the Ministry of Economy, Minister Tigran Khachatryan met with representatives of the light industry to discuss the issue of lifting restrictions on the activities of enterprises in this field. The businessmen emphasized that an individual approach should be shown to the enterprises of the sphere. The economic entity itself should apply to the commandant and assure that the established rules of safety and health will be maintained.


The director of “Gloria” garment factory Bagrat Darbinyan  said that he had applied to the commendant in a written form, but they had no answer yet.


Meanwhile, several hundred employees of other textile companies, most of them women, are in the same predicament.


One of the women from  Alex Textile told WomenNet.am that they had said beforehand that they would start working since April 20th , but the employees had to pay for the transport. Then they postponed it, they still don’t go to work.


The “Sartex” enterprise, where several dozen employees fell ill with coronavirus after the arrival of the Italian manager, is not working yet. The employer paid the employees who submitted a disability certificate. They don’t know what will happen in the future and with those who are not sick.


The Human Rights Defender stated that he could not help the employees in this matter, as they refer to private companies, and the authority of the Defender does not apply to private companies. The issue must be settled in court.


If the government does not take quick and comprehensive steps, it is not ruled out that many of these employees will become unemployed, in addition to being burdened with a heavy social burden. Many employers have already warned their employees about the temporary dismissal.

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