Industry Update/National Response
- On March 24, a tripartite agreement was developed by the National Tripartite Free Trade Zone Commission, in the face of the COVID-19 health emergency. It recommends companies take several measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19: 1) grant work permits with percentages of wages; 2.) grant vacations in advance; 3) reduce working hours (including working days); 4. carry out work activities remotely or teleworking; 5) perform temporary suspensions of the employment contract under the Art. 38 C.T; . 6) use any other good practice that the company considers convenient, always with workers agreement, such as the advances of severance payment, food packages and others. In the cases of workers over 60 years of age, pregnant women, and high-risk workers with chronic diseases, all work interruptions will receive full salary.
- The government has not declared quarantine measures, and government institutions and schools remain open.
- Of the 26 factories enrolled in Better Work, seven factories have currently suspended production, affecting an approximated 13,000 workers.
Factory Service Update
- Factory visits including assessments are temporarily suspended until 30 May.
- Advisory and training services remain in place and are delivered to factories virtually, including virtual training about use of PPE, including face masks, and proper handling of chemical substances. At the time of training, the number of workers is limited to no more than 10 people in the same room. All are required to wear masks and keep one meter of distance from each other.
- Support to factories through advisory services focuses on COVID-19 prevention issues, improvement plans, follow-up of recurring non-compliance findings, self-diagnosis processes, and preparation of the first and second progress reports. As part of the virtual advisory, WhatsApp groups of the Improvement Advisory Committees (PICC), consisting of representatives of workers and management, are being developed.
Additional Better Work Activities
- All Nicaragua Better Work factories are implementing safety measures against COVID-19 including: 1) temperature measures of all workers upon entering the factory; 2) universal use of facemasks for workers; 3) provision of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to all workers in the main entrance of the factory; 4) consistent awareness-raising of COVID-19 prevention and awareness through factory loud-speaker systems; 5) prevention training; and 6) fumigation to external vehicles, canteens and factory premises.
- In coordination with ILO (ACTEMP) and Consejo Superior de la Empresa Privada (COSEP), a national survey has been launched to measure the level of impact, actions taken, and future needs related to business effects of COVID-19. Survey data collection will conclude by 31 May.
- Better Work is organizing a webinar on COVID-19 prevention measures for the textile and clothing industry, to be facilitated with Unicef in Nicaragua as part of the United Nations interagency alliance. This webinar will give advice and support to factories in the textile sector in Nicaragua, union representatives and private sector.
- A tool for risk assessment in the garment sector is being developed together with PICC worker and management members to equip them to self-assess their vulnerability and level of preparedness for the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19.
- Better Work is developing guidance for socially responsible transition in line with Nicaraguan legislation. The document refers to temporary closure processes, termination of contracts, reduction of personnel, and suspension processes, among other topics. A presentation and accompanying document will ensure factories have a tool to guide such potential processes stemming from COVID-19.