Urgent appeal cases in 2012
The Dynamic Casting factory in Guangzhou produced golf clubs for Adidas. Due to appalling working conditions, more than 100 workers, most of them polishers, contracted occupational diseases. These included lung disease, damaged hearing, benzene poisoning and Hand/Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAV). Dynamic Casting has failed to adequately protect or compensate the workers concerned, while production is being transferred to Taiwan.
Aminul Islam, a labour rights defender and long time partner of the Clean Clothes Campaign, was severely tortured and murdered on 4 April 2012. He had been tortured and jailed by security forces on previous occasions prior to his disappearance and killing. Sadly, no one has yet been held responsible for this murder.
In September 2012 Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi was devastated by a fire, resulting in the death of 286 trapped workers. The factory produced jeans and other apparel for German discounter KiK. Just a month before the fire, the factory had been certified as meeting international labour standards by Social Accountability International.
Mölnlycke Health Care produces single-use surgical gowns near Bangkok. Workers there were accused of an “illegal strike” and fired in September 2011. A Thai special committee for resolving labour conflicts investigated the incident. The committee concluded that no strike had taken place and that Mölnlycke ought to reemploy the workers. However, Mölnlycke went to court instead.
Following the formation of a factory-level union, five workers were sacked at Tokyo Mode Ltd, located north of the capital Dhaka. In order to end this labour rights violation, the Clean Clothes Campaign contacted the main buyers of the company. One of the buyers mediated between factory management, the union and a supporting labour rights NGO in Bangladesh.
Sportswear manufacturer Kizone, located west of Jakarta, closed in April 2011 with its owner simply disappearing. The 2,800 workers who lost their job were legally entitled to severance payments totalling 3.4 million dollars. Although almost half of this amount was provided by two of the buyers from Kizone in 2011, another main Kizone buyer, Adidas, refused to contribute to the severance fund.
The Contemporary Classic factory in India was illegally subcontracting 300 of its 350 workers. The subcontracted workers were discriminated against: they received lower wages than the others, due to additional deductions. In April 2012 union leader Mohanlal was illegally dismissed after raising these issues. Contemporary Classic produced for Milan-based brand Piazza Italia.
In February 2012 over a thousand workers from three factories were protesting for better working conditions, including a salary increase of $10 per month over their $61 per month minimum wage. Then there was a shooting in front of the Kaoway Sports company, and three young female protestors were shot. One of them needed intensive care treatment in the capital Phnom Penh.
Following the registration of their union at the Mirrai factory, union members have been intimidated and transferred. When the union asked for a referendum to establish its right to be a collective bargaining agent for the workers, the management declared the day of the referendum a holiday and intimidated the workers.
José Enrique Morales Montaño was kidnapped by unknown men who threatened to kill him on 15 May 2012. Morales was a member of the Workers Support Centre (CAT) in Puebla. He was on his way to a hearing of the Local Conciliation and Arbitration Board where the CAT was defending the rights of a group of garment workers.
Two accidents cost the lives of three workers in Continental Garments factories in Dhaka. At the Eurotex factory, an exploding boiler caused panic among the workers. In the resulting stampede, two workers lost their lives. Only three weeks later, in another Continental Garments factory, a lift cable broke, resulting in the death of another worker.
The Unitex Exports factory in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, illegally closed down on November 1st 2011. 120 workers were left jobless without receiving compensation, retirement benefits, health insurance or overdue wages. The workers’ union has become stronger through dealing with these issues, and launched a Fair Wage campaign in May.
In 2005, 518 workers, almost all of them women, took part in a strike at the Sri Lankan GP Garments factory demanding their festival bonus as promised by the factory management. They were subsequently dismissed without the correct procedures being followed. Thirty-seven of them are facing legal procedures, with a high court verdict still pending.
After filing a complaint about working conditions and contract issues at the Orion Conmerx factory in Gurgaon, most of the 41 workers who signed the complaint were either laid off or forced to resign. After follow-up action by the Worker Rights Consortium and the Clean Clothes Campaign, contract terms have been improved.
After exposure in the media for lack of workers' safety at their Bangladeshi suppliers, the owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein signed a binding Safety Agreement with Bangladeshi and international labour organisations in March 2012. In August 2012 German retailer Tchibo was the second company to sign this agreement.
In Karachi, twelve trade union activists were charged under the Anti-Terrorist Act in March 2012. This is believed to be a response to their union activities at their workplace at a subsidiary of Al Karam Textile Mills. Six of the unionists were arrested and tortured. In May 2012 they were released on bail.
In Colombo, the Bratex factory produces underwear for Fruit of the Loom and Viania. Workers have been intimidated, and 31 trade union leaders have been arrested and fired after a legal strike in 2011, which broke out after management failed to respond to workers’ concerns about wages and freedom of association.
In November 2012, at least 112 workers died and hundreds were severely injured in a fire at Tazreen Fashions, a garment factory near Dhaka. Many of the workers jumped to their deaths trying to escape from the nine-storey building. Others were burned alive. Fire exits were either absent or closed. Tazreen produced garments for well-known brands including C&A, KIK, Walmart, Disney, Dickies and ENYCE.
Since May 2012, workers at SC Enterprises making garments for Italian brand Original Marines have faced ongoing intimidation for their activities with Kasbi trade union. SC Enterprises is an Indonesian supplier located in Central Java. Outwardly a green, “modern environmentally-friendly garment factory”, conditions within the factory are grim, with low wages, long working hours and forced unpaid overtime.
In July 2012 more than 2,000 workers from the Panarub Dwikarya factory, part of the Panarub Group, in Tangerang went on strike to protest against the lack of implementation of the provincial minimum wage, the denial of freedom of association and the bad working conditions at the workplace. They were confronted with police violence, intimidation and the unfair dismissal of 1300 workers that joined the strike. After intervention, buying brands adidas and Mizuno asked for an end to the violations.
Somyot, a Thai labour activist, human rights defender and magazine editor, has been in detention since April 2011 for the publication of two articles deemed insulting to the king. He was sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment in January 2013, with an appeal still pending.
In 2010, after a four-day strike for an increased minimum wage, hundreds of workers and union leaders in Cambodia were sacked when they wanted to resume work. Hundreds have by now been reinstated, but over a hundred workers are yet to be re-employed. In 2012 CCC was in ongoing contact with brands to get manufacturers to rehire workers who have been dismissed.
At the Busana Prima Global factory, seven female workers were dismissed for their union work. They had visited the Bogor District Department for Manpower to discuss continuing violations of labour rights at their workplace. On the dismissal of the seven unionists, 37 co-workers went on strike. The factory management has not been willing to change its behaviour.
Garment company Hey Tekstil did not pay its employees from November 2011 to February 2012, then fired them without notice and failed to pay them the severance payments required by law. The workers organised actions and picket lines for months to get what is owed to them by the company. A web appeal and solidarity actions targeting Esprit have been set up to support them.
The Pinehurst factory, producing for Nike and Adidas, dismissed workers in August 2011 due to falling orders at the factory. Union delegates and union members were singled out for dismissal. After a very long process with many delays, a collective bargaining agreement was signed. However, until today it has only been partially implemented.
Hera Tekstil, part of the Roteks Group, is a factory producing for H&M, Lindex and Inditex. In June 2011 the Teksif workers union started an organising campaign, which led to the recruitment of sufficient members for the trade union to register at the factory. Subsequently, workers were intimidated, forced to resign from the union and remaining unionised workers were dismissed. CCC communicated with key buyers and a Spanish trade union federation on follow up.