Home Business Victoria’s Secret Thai contractors managed to get compensated

Victoria’s Secret Thai contractors managed to get compensated

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Thanks to the mobilization of trade unions and international organizations, 1,250 Thai textile workers were able to benefit from their severance pay. They received the equivalent of 7.3 million euros, or €5,800 per employee on average, in order to put an end to this dispute which had been going on for fifteen months. This is the largest severance settlement agreement obtained by laid-off employees in an emerging country.

In March 2021, Brilliant Alliance Thai, a company working in subcontracting for Western brands, based south of Bangkok, filed for bankruptcy and laid off all of its staff. But without paying the legal severance pay. The factory specialized in manufacturing lingerie and worked for well-known brands like Victoria’s Secret, Torrid and Lane Bryant.

Two to four years salary in allowances

This situation was a consequence of the Covid pandemic. At the start of the epidemic, clothing sales fell sharply around the world, to the point that the factory went bankrupt. Since then, the sacked workers have been protesting outside the government headquarters in Bangkok.

“The case of Brilliant has become emblematic because the factory worked for very well-known brands and the local unions were particularly active in organizing the mobilizationexplains Nayla Ajaltouni, coordinator of the Ethics on Labels collective. It was becoming difficult for Victoria’s Secret to turn a blind eye. As a result, the workers obtained the compensation due, which represents two to four years of salary, whereas usually, employees only obtain, at best, the equivalent of a few weeks. »

It is indeed the American lingerie brand that agreed to pay. She is the only one of Brilliant’s many contractors to have done so. This victory is also the result of the pressure exerted within the framework of an international campaign entitled “Pay Your Workers”.

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The Covid led to the dismissal of at least 160,000 employees

This campaign was launched by the American Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and Ethics on the label in France. The aim was to draw attention to the plight of textile workers in emerging countries who were suddenly thrown out of work at the time of the pandemic.

A WRC report from April 2021 details how Covid has brought clothing trade to a standstill around the world, to the point that a large number of factories located in emerging countries have gone bankrupt or have carried out massive layoffs. The report estimates that at least 160,000 textile workers in 18 developing countries were left without work within months.

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“This reality, at the time, went completely unnoticed. However, in developed countries, major textile brands have benefited from state aid to overcomenotes Nayla Ajaltouni. The campaign therefore aimed to say that these major brands could not exonerate themselves from their responsibilities vis-à-vis their subcontractors. »

The tip of the iceberg

This speech ended up being heard by the Victoria’s Secret brand. But according to Worker Rights Consortium director Scott Nova, the case of the Brilliant factory in Thailand is just the “tip of the iceberg”. The amount of severance pay that was not paid during the pandemic to textile employees represents, according to him, the equivalent of 460 million euros.

He insists on the fact that these are, each time, legal indemnities, but that the employers have refused to pay or have said that they are not able to do so. And in this case, it is the responsibility of the principals to replace the defaulting factory owners, judges the leader of the WRC, because the brands cannot ask the subcontractors to assume alone the economic hazards of the sector.

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