10 July, 2020Women workers who earn less than US$ 4.5 a day producing clothes for H&M, Gap and Adidas, have been fighting for their livelihoods for more than a month, as garment factory owner Gokaldas Exports have illegally laid off 1,200 workers at its only unionized factory.
Gokaldas Exports owns 20 factories, and on 8 June, management announced a lay-off of all workers at the only factory with union membership. Factories with more than 100 workers are required to obtain prior permission from the government before layoffs, making the move illegal as, at the time, 1,200 workers were employed in the factory.
That same evening, workers began a sit-in at the company gates, which is still ongoing.
At the time of the layoffs, Swedish fashion giant H&M was the only buyer. The union, IndustriALL affiliate Unions United, is engaged in conciliation proceedings before the labour department. Gokaldas management refused to attend meetings called by the National monitoring committee (NMC), part of the global framework agreement between H&M and IndustriALL Global Union.
It took a month, and on 8 July, management attended the NMC meeting, but refused to make any commitment or show good faith to resolve the matter with the union.
Management of Gokaldas Exports has been harassing workers to resign. There are recordings of managers announcing that the factory will not re-open and that workers would only be able to get their dues if they resign.
Workers who were forced to resign have informed the union about the pressure they were subjected to.
In an appalling development since the NMC meeting, officials from Gokaldas Exports have gone to village after village where the workers live, bullying the workers to resign and threaten them with withheld dues unless they resign.
Union members, with support from village leaders, have managed to resist the pressure from management.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says:
“Gokaldas Exports behaviour violates international labour standards; this is a clear violation of freedom of association, the cornerstone in our GFA with H&M, and thus a clear violation of the GFA itself. Union busting and intimidation will never be tolerated by IndustriALL. We stand in full solidarity with the brave workers that for over a month have resisted all sorts of pressure during the pandemic to defend their jobs, salaries and your union.”
IndustriALL Global Union will be contacting all brands sourcing from all of Gokaldas Exports’ factories, including H&M, C&A, Marks & Spencer, Gap, Adidas, Bestseller, to ensure the full respect of fundamental labour rights of the workers.
Below are links to videos of Gokaldas Exports' managers, going to the workers' villages trying to force them to resign.
Join us in supporting the workers at Gokaldas fighting for their liveliehoods. Download the poster below, take your photo with it, and post it on social media. Remember to tag IndustriALL and use the hashtag #GarmentWorkersNeedUnions
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