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19 Apr 2023

Simon Glover, EcoTextile

Indonesia: s.Oliver pays 'long overdue' $110,000 to Jaba Garmindo workers, campaigners urge Uniqlo to follow suit

"S.Oliver pays sacked garment workers €100k", 19 April 2023

...S.Oliver has paid out €100,000 (US$110,000) to 2,000 former workers of an Indonesian garment factory which went bankrupt in 2015.

The Jaba Garmindo factory closed without paying the workers their legally entitled severance money after S.Oliver and...Uniqlo pulled orders, according to workers' rights campaigners...

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) welcomed S.Oliver's decision to pay the workers but claimed they were actually owed US$5.5 million and urged Uniqlo to follow suit...

The company insists it is not at fault and has no liability.

Teddy Senadi Putra, a former worker and member of the Indonesian labour union FSPMI at the the Jaba Garmindo plant, said: “S.Oliver’s payment is long overdue, but it doesn’t come close to what we are owed.

"Where is Uniqlo? One of the richest brands in the world continues to turn their back on us, even though we made their products and profits. Uniqlo pretends to be an ethical company but they still won’t pay us what we are owed! After eight years, where is our justice?”

In October 2019, Clean Clothes Campaign and FSPMI filed a third-party complaint to the Fair Labor Association (FLA) initiative of which both Fast Retailing and S.Oliver were members.

S.Oliver has since left FLA and last year joined the Fairwear Foundation...

In July 2021, the FLA recommended that Fast Retailing and s.Oliver, along with other brands that sourced from the factory, pay into a relief fund for workers.

In a statement, S.Oliver said that both the FLA investigation and an earlier probe by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) had concluded that the company had not contributed to the bankruptcy of the Jaba Garmindo factory through its sourcing activities.

"Nevertheless, the investigation also concluded that brands that had sourced from Jaba Garmindo should – even in the absence of a legal obligation – provide some financial relief to the former Jaba Garmindo workers, as such action would be of huge benefit to them," said the statement.

"In February 2023, with the operative support from Fair Wear Foundation and the Indonesian organisation Trade Union Rights Centre (TURC), the S.Oliver Group agreed to distribute a donation to the former workers of Jaba Garmindo...

However, a Fast Retailing spokesperson insisted: "The FLA investigation found unequivocally that the actions of Uniqlo, and its parent company Fast Retailing, did not contribute in any way to the PT Jaba Garmindo bankruptcy, and concluded that neither Uniqlo, nor Fast Retailing, has any obligation pertaining to this matter."

The CCC said the inability of FLA to ensure Fast Retailing, which was still one of its member brands, acted in line with its recommendations exemplified the challenges faced by voluntary initiatives in protecting workers’ rights...