Clean Clothes Campaign, together with workers of the Jaba Garmindo clothing factory in Indonesia, has filed a complaint with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) against Fast Retailing, parent company of the Uniqlo brand, and German brand s.Oliver.
The complaint alleges Uniqlo violated FLA’s workplace code of conduct and its principles of fair labour and responsible sourcing, which are designed to ensure the “respectful and ethical treatment of workers” and to “promote sustainable conditions” in the garment industry.
In April 2015, two Indonesian clothing factories in Cikupa and Majalengka closed overnight without paying legally required severance payments and several months of wages to its mostly women workforce.
The factory closures followed the sudden bankruptcy of the company after its major buyers, most notably Uniqlo, withdrew their business from the factory.
The thousands of workers employed by Jaba Garmindo were given no warning that their factory was in trouble. They only learned of the closure and bankruptcy through media reports.
Factory documents obtained by workers show that Uniqlo and s.Oliver were the most significant buyers at the factory in the years prior to the closure, collectively accounting for more than 50% of the production volume in 2014.
Workers have testified the influence Uniqlo had over the factory production and working conditions, with workers reporting that the arrival of the brand led to increased targets, forced overtime and work pressure.
Court documents from the bankruptcy proceedings cite the business practices of buyers as a significant contributing factor in the factories’ closure.
For the full story, see the November 2019 edition of Textiles South East Asia. Not a subscriber? Sign up HERE