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Action Update: Volume 38

Action Update: Volume 38

 

Find out what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.

There is lots going on in this action update. Leicester garment workers took their demands to Westminster. We marched through the beating heart of highstreet fashion to demand power and pay for workers in Bangladesh. We launched new work on corporate accountability. We’ve been campaigning also in support of workers in Thailand who are taking Tesco and social auditors Intertek to court, and there’s loads more. Read all about it!

Read it here: Action Update: Volume 38

 

Reactive: Primark must ensure recognition of women-led union in light of new report

Reactive: Primark must ensure recognition of women-led union in light of new report

Reactive: Primark must ensure recognition of women-led union in light of new report

Image: Angela Christofalou, protests_photos

For immediate release: Thursday 20th June, 2024

PRIMARK, BESTSELLER, THE CHILDREN’S PLACE MUST ENSURE THEIR SUPPLIER RECOGNISES WOMEN-LED UNION IN LIGHT OF NEW REPORT

  • A new report by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) has found that brands such as Primark are failing to fulfil commitments to freedom of association and collective bargaining, by relying on ineffective alternative representation structures instead of engaging with democratic trade unions.
  • The report ‘Just for show”: worker representation in Asia’s garment sector and the role of fashion brands and employers is based on case studies from six major garment-producing countries in Asia, as well as information from focus groups, surveys and interviews.
  • A key case study in the report, which highlights “the role of brands in perpetuating freedom of association violations and the privileging of alternative structures” is that of SAPL unit 1, a factory in Bangalore, India, which supplies garments to Primark, Bestseller and The Children’s Place.
  • This case study details how garment workers in SAPL unit 1 represented by women-led Garment Labour Union (GLU) have faced management intimidation, union-busting, refusal to recognise the union, and refusal to respect guarantees against victimisation for GLU’s workplace representatives under local law.
  • The case study also shows how Primark, Bestseller and The Children’s Place have failed to uphold freedom of association and collective bargaining at SAPL by: promoting workers’ committees instead of the trade union GLU; misinterpreting the law; defaulting to legal minimum standards; failing to situate their investigation findings in a context of union-bust; and not using their leverage to ensure their own policy commitments on freedom of association are implemented by their supplier. 
  • The report makes recommendations including that brands ensure their suppliers recognise trade unions where – as is the case at SAPL unit 1 – it is legally in their discretion to do so.

In response to the publication of this report and the findings made therein about SAPL unit-1, Rukmini, co-founder and current president of Garment Labour Union, said: 

GLU is a women-led trade union formed by garment workers ourselves in 2012. We have been organizing in SAPL unit-1 for 8 years, since 2016. Although women make up 85% of the workforce in the garment industry, it seems Management and Brands are shamefully not ready to formally recognize a women-led trade union.

Brands and Management only work for their profits, irrespective of many national and international guidelines like UNGP, European law, ILO convention, OECD guidelines. Workers on the production side and workers on the consumption side of the global garment industry put all their efforts into making the industry fairer but Brands and Management earn ever more profits through their tricky games”.

“The attitude of Brands and Management suggests that their ideal scenario would be to make workers work in conditions of bonded labour without being able to challenge violations of their rights. They assume that if they accept and recognise the union workers will be able to challenge rights violations and hurt their profit margins. For this reason they are not ready to accept the union”.

“We as a women-led trade union of garment workers believe that both workers and management are important in good industrial relations. But we have to ask why Brands and Management are ignoring a women-led trade union, why they still hesitate to recognise us after all these years.

ENDS

Notes for editors:

  • For press enquiries please contact Maya Thomas Davis, Advocacy Lead at Labour Behind the Label, on: maya@labourbehindthelabel.org / +447491669231

  • Interviews with Garment Labour Union union available on request. 

Primark: empower women by recognising their union!

Primark: empower women by recognising their union!

Primark: recognise this women-led union!

Adidas workers around the world protesting

Workers at the SAPL unit 1 garment factory in India have been joining and organising with the Garment Labour Union (GLU) for 8 years. GLU is a democratic, independent trade union set up and led by women garment workers. 

Email the CEO of Primark to let them know they must act to ensure freedom of association for their workers. 

GLU have fulfilled every legal requirement and have requested recognition from the SAPL management many times. Yet the factory bosses still refuse their rightful request, while brands like Primark who source from the factory fail to act on their stated commitments to trade union freedoms and women’s rights. 

Is this female empowerment, Primark? Is this your commitment to freedom of association? 

It’s not good enough! 

We demand that Primark immediately ensure their supplier recognises the workers’ chosen women-led union GLU in order to put an end to union-busting and intimidation, and improve conditions for all workers.  

Send a letter to Primark’s CEO today to stand with the workers of SAPL who make clothes for Primark! 

GLU is a women-led trade union formed by garment workers ourselves in 2012. We have been organizing in SAPL unit-1 for 8 years, since 2016. Although women make up 85% of the workforce in the garment industry, it seems Management and Brands are shamefully not ready to formally recognize a women-led trade union.”

Rukmini, GLU co-founder and current president

Primark, recognise this women-led union!

Dear Paul Marchant

I am writing to express my deep concern and disappointment that Primark is failing in its commitments to freedom of association and collective bargaining rights for workers making clothes for Primark in SAPL factory unit 1 in India.

For 8 years workers at SAPL unit 1 have been organising as members of the Garment Labour Union (GLU). GLU is a democratic, independent trade union set up and led by women garment workers. GLU has been doing the work – patiently organising and building relationships with SAPL management – for nearly a decade, despite union-busting and intimidation.

GLU has fulfilled and continues to fulfil all the requirements under local labour law to gain formal recognition in the factory, which is at the discretion of management. And yet time and time again your supplier refuses the union’s rightful recognition request.

In your own mission statements you claim to care – not just for customers like me but also for the people who make your clothes. You say that you uphold freedom of association - a basic human right. And yet at SAPL unit 1 where GLU has jumped through all legal hoops for nearly a decade, and where there is nothing to stop your supplier recognising this women-led union, Primark is still failing to take decisive action to end union-busting and protect workers’ rights through recognition. International labour law is crystal clear: recognition of and collective bargaining with independent, democratic trade unions like GLU is the best way to prevent all labour rights abuses and improve conditions in your supply chain.

If Primark wants to show it cares, it must urgently apply every effort to ensure SAPL management sign a long-overdue recognition agreement with GLU. Failure to do so makes a mockery of your own published commitments to freedom of association, collective bargaining, and women’s rights.

Best regards,

%%your signature%%

640 signatures

     

Briefing: Why SHEIN is problematic – the human rights implications of its UK float

Briefing: Why SHEIN is problematic – the human rights implications of its UK float

Briefing: Why SHEIN is problematic – the human rights implications of its UK float

Shein is not the only fashion brand to be embroiled in controversy or to profit from cheap and cheapening labour. The trouble is, where Shein goes others will follow. The model that has allowed the company to grow so rapidly sees workers as a cost to be minimised. Without shops or warehouses, let alone own-brand production sites, Shein churns out new designs subcontracted down a chain of smaller producers with zero transparency or responsibility for workers’ conditions or wages. 

The ultra-fast fashion brand SHEIN is set to become the standard for e-retail fast fashion, as it prepares to float on the London Stock Exchange. This briefing covers why SHEIN becoming a publicly traded company is a tipping point for the direction of fast fashion and how this is highly problematic for people and the planet.

 

Briefing: Intertek and the failures of social auditing

Briefing: Intertek and the failures of social auditing

Briefing: Intertek and the failures of social auditing

Despite industry claims, the multi-billion dollar social auditing industry does not keep workers safe or protect their rights. There are many examples from the last decade that demonstrate how social auditing has failed to protect workers, and instead has been used by corporations to distance themselves from the responsibility of protecting workers’ rights and lives.

Most high street fashion brands use Social Audits. These are checks carried out to see if factories are treating workers fairly. Read more about how social auditing fails to deliver accountability for corporate abuse in our latest briefing. 

This briefing covers a worker case where social auditing failed and looks at how this exemplifies the failings of the audit industry.