4000 garment workers laid off in largest garments company

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4000 garment workers laid off in largest garments company

KARACHI, 3 Jul, 2022 – 4,000 workers laid off in one of the largest producers of garments for international fashion brands,  at eve of Eid festival.

The National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) staged a protest on Sunday at Karachi press club against the dismissals. The demonstration was led by Sami Sahir and Himmat Phulpto along with large number of retrenched workers.

Other participants in the protest included Nasir Mansoor and Rafiq Baloch of the National Trade Union Federation, Zahra Khan of the Home Based Women Workers Federation, Karamat Ali of the National Labor Council, Denim Clothing Company workers including Sharan, Ahsan and Mohammad Zohaib, Salman Khan, Shakeel, Daniyal, Sarang Joyo and Sohni Joyo of Sindh Sujaghi Forum, Saeed Baloch of Fisher Fork Forum, Advocate Sajid and Ardash Tanveer, Manzoor Razi of Pakistan Railway Union, Aqib Hussain and Barkat of Alternate, United Home Based Garment Workers Union. Saira Feroze and Ruqqia Muhammad Hanif.

Addressing the protest, the affected workers said that the Denim Clothing Company having many units where thousands of workers employed. A unit of the same company located in Korangi Industrial Area was forcing workers to sign resignations papers. In the unit around 4,000 workers, including 2,000 women working in inhuman working conditions.

Workers were harassed, who did not sign plain papers and resign were threatened with dire consequences including forced out of work without paying their dues.

These workers had been working in factory for five to ten years. Now to avoid paying government announced minimum wage of Rs 25,000 and distribution of Eid bounce, the management had started illegal retrenchment. The management was planning to impose third party contract system (Thakadari) which was against labour laws.

The workers added that labor laws in denim clothing continue to be violated even though the factory produced merchandise for international fashion brands. These brands had entered into Global Framework Agreements (GFAs) with Industrial Global Union (IGU) that the supplying factories will fully comply with local and international labor laws. But the factory had been violating the agreement for the past ten years.

The factory did not provide written employment contract to workers, most workers were deprived of EOBI and social security cover, women were subjected to sexual harassment and violence and workers deprived of basic rights such as union formation and right to bargain collectively.

A written complaint had been lodged with the Labor Department against the abuse of workers’ fundamental rights. The Labor Department had called the factory management to respond, but the management trampled on the Labor Department’s notice and refused to respond to any inquiries.

The participating labor leaders demanded that the sacked workers be reinstated with due back benefits. The Department of Labor must ensure compliance with labor laws, International brands also comply the GFAs and compel its local suppliers to respect and implement labour standards as envisage in the agreements.

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