Victory for Kanlayanee Workers!
26 Burmese workers who were illegally underpaid while making products for major brands Tesco, Starbucks, NBC Universal and Disney have now received all the wages and severance legally owed to them. The wage theft case sets a global precedent for other brands to follow in terms of brand accountability in an industry made up of 80% women and where migrant labour is rife. Thank you to everyone who tweeted, emailed or signed our petitions!
For two years a group of Burmese migrant workers were illegally paid less than a dollar an hour, were forced to work unpaid overtime, and had their holiday pay withheld at the Kanlayanee factory in Mae Sot, Thailand.
Last year, in Sept 2019, the Kanlayanee workers bravely spoke out to stop the labour abuses. A few weeks later, the factory suddenly closed after Starbucks cancelled orders, leaving the workers with nothing. The former Kanlayanee workers have been fighting for justice ever since; demanding that they receive the money they are legally owed for making products for four major global companies: Disney, Starbucks, NBC Universal and Tesco. The workers were blacklisted as a result, leaving them unable to find alternative work.
After global pressure from supporters and activists NBC Universal, the last brand remaining, agreed to pay in full. This is the first time that migrant workers from Mae Sot, Thailand have received not only full severance pay after loosing their jobs but also the full amount owed to them for minimum wage violations.
Garment workers who lost their jobs prior to COVID-19 had their debt and poverty exacerbated by the virus fallout. The sudden cancellation of orders lead to lack of jobs, leaving people foraging the roadside for weeds to eat. What seems like nothing to these brands, means the world for the workers. With this compensation, the workers can repay debts, send money to their family back home in Myanmar and rebuild their lives.