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25 Jun 2020

James Crump, The Independent

India: Trade union calls on H&M to take responsibility as garment workers continue to protest dismissal from Euro Clothing

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"Indian factory workers protest after 'H&M cancels orders' leaving 1,000 jobless", 25 June 2020

More than 1,000... sacked workers are still protesting outside the Euro Clothing Company factory (ECC-2), owned by Gokaldas Exports... weeks after the factory was shut down... [and it was announced] workers would be paid half of their remaining wages and that the factory would no longer be operational... Gokaldas Exports... released a statement, that read: “The lay-off is due to reduction and cancellation of orders from its customers based out of key markets consequent to the Covid-19 pandemic.”..

One of the workers... [said] I’ve worked in this factory for 9 years and we’ve been producing for H&M for more than 6 years. We built up the factory and the brand and just one fine day they layed us off with no notice. They’ve left our families to starve...

[The New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) general secretary Gautam Mody said]... “H&M is the only... manufacturer... for which ECC-2 has been manufacturing in 2020. In 2019, ECC-2 manufactured almost 90% production for H&M. “Therefore, H&M was clearly aware that they were reducing orders leading to the shutting down of the factory.”...

H&M [said] “...our orders at this specific supplier are on similar levels as during the same period last year. We are also fulfilling our payments for goods in accordance with contracts, on time and at the originally agreed price.”... “The supplier wants to lay off workers at one of its units (out of 20 in total) and the conflict... is about different interpretations of the national law. We are in close dialogue with both parties to help them resolve the conflict peacefully and reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.”

... Mr Mody [said]... “H&M claims are mere words. Workers have been out on the picket line for 18 days and there hasn’t been any demonstrable action from H&M.”... “the actions of the supplier are patently illegal and H&M has nothing to say on this. Which law allows the supplier not to pay wages or to lay-off without notice? H&M is in effect party to the union busting through its silence.”... “H&M must take full responsibility of the situation and require Gokaldas to immediately place orders specifically at ECC-2 and live up to its commitment that it has made to the international community to ensure jobs are not lost in their supply chain.”