In the relentless pursuit of earning foreign exchange, Sri Lanka’s garment workers face a grueling daily battle for survival. While their labor contributes to the production of global brands, their own lives remain fragile, plagued by meager wages, exploitation, and an ongoing economic crisis.
“I arrived in Colombo with hopes and aspirations. Sadly, I have lost them,” lamented a young factory worker, her voice filled with dejection. Leaving her hometown of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, she joined a garment factory job in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone, located approximately 35 kilometers north of the capital, Colombo. “The soaring cost of living leaves me struggling to make ends meet, with no possibility of saving even a single penny,” she added, speaking anonymously. For countless individuals like her in this island nation, the economic crisis of the past year continues to cast a heavy burden, despite slight improvements in shortages and queuing.
The plight of Sri Lanka’s garment workers underscores the enduring challenges they face, as they strive to support themselves and their families in the midst of an unyielding crisis, where even the most basic necessities remain out of reach.