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All-night picket over 1,200 illegal lay-offs

9 June, 2020Women workers at Euro Clothing Company ECC-2, India, supplier to global fashion brands like H&M, staged an overnight sit-in at the factory, protesting against the illegal lay-offs of 1,200 workers.

On 8 June, management at Euro Clothing Company, owned by Gokuldas Exports Group, announced a lay-off of 1,200 workers, in clear violation of the labour law. In Indian labour law, lay-off is an act by which there is no production and workers are paid 50 per cent of their salaries. According to the law, a permission from the government is needed for lay-offs in workplaces with more than 100 workers.

 

Union busting at the factory had begun a few weeks earlier. With the easing of the lockdown, industries were allowed to resume operations on 5 May and workers reported for duty, despite difficulties as public transport had not restarted.

Only 30 per cent of the workers were provided work. They were paid 50 per cent of the wages for the period they worked. No wages were paid at all during the lockdown to any of the workers of ECC-2.

During the night of 30 May, management started removing machines without informing the workers or the union, and only stopped when workers gathered at the gate, blocking the removal.

However, management continued to remove machines, provided work only in the ironing section, and put up a notice that only 50 per cent of the workers would be provided work. Remaining workers would either be transferred to other factories of the group or laid off.

The majority of the workers are members of Unions United, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union. The union says the actions are not business related; it is a clear case of union busting. The matter has now been brought before the labour department of the state government.

ECC-2, supplier to H&M, is also bound by the global framework agreement signed between IndustriALL and the Swedish clothing giant.

IndustriALL stands in solidarity with the union and its members who picketed the factory all night, and has sent a letter to Euro Clothing Company, calling on them to immediately withdraw the illegal lay-off.

General secretary Valter Sanches says:

"We commend the courage of the workers  fighting for their jobs. We strongly oppose the illegal actions of the management, especially as we see a trend to close unionized factories and retrench union members using the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse.

"We call on ECC management to engage in negotiations with GATWU and on H&M to intervene and fulfill the commitments at our joint global framework agreement.”