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13-month campaign leads to union win

19 May, 2022Thirteen months of continuous campaigning has led to a union win for Triumph International Thailand Labour Union (TITLU). Now Brilliant Alliance Thai Global (BAT) will pay the money owed to the 1,388 illegally fired workers.

The 1,388 workers were fired without notice in March 2021 as the factory, supplying lingerie brands Victoria’s Secret, Torrid and Lane Bryant, suddenly closed, using the pandemic and a lack of orders as reasons.

The workers, mostly women, were left in dire conditions in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the factory owners refused to pay wages, overtime, holiday and severance pay owed.

The Thai labour inspector ordered the company to pay THB 242million (US$7.4 million) for violating the country’s labour laws. The company offered to pay workers in instalments over a 10-year period. When this was rejected by the union, the company went into liquidation and promised to fulfil its legal obligations.

Since there was no further movement, TITLU, together with the Textile Workers Federation of Thailand (TWFT) and the Confederation of Industrial Labour of Thailand (CILT), held several demonstrations demanding that the company and the government fulfil workers’ rights under the labour laws.

On 14 February, Valentine’s day, IndustriALL organized a regional day of action and unionists from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines and Thailand participated in store actions, a social media campaign and sending protest letters to the brands, demanding that the workers be paid immediately.

After negotiations, the company has now agreed to pay US$8 million in total to the lingerie workers by the end of April. The amount includes the wages, overtime, holiday and severance pay that BAT owed the workers, as well as eight per cent per annum interest.

“It is a great victory which is the result of the international labour movement cooperating to protect the rights of 1,388 workers to receive their severance pay. Thank you for all the efforts that led to this success, including Solidartiy Center who have been very active in helping us find a solution,”

says Prasit Prasopsuk, CILT president.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL director of textile and garment industry says:

"Through the perseverance of the workers, the Triumph union leadership and countless international actions of solidarity, a 13-month long struggle concludes with an agreement that pays the BAT workers their legal severance.

“This is why IndustriALL is demanding that a strong social safety net be the solution to the continued problem of wage theft that plagues the textile and garment supply chain. Now is the time for a global and enforceable agreement between trade unions, global brands, and their suppliers on social protection."