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Indonesia: Terminated workers of Uniqlo's Jaba Garmindo factory demand payment of wages; company responds

A report alleges that former workers of Uniqlo's Jaba Garmindo factory are still demanding payment of their wages despite having been terminated three years ago. The report notes that Uniqlo and other major buyers withdrew orders from factory without warning or explanation. This resulted to the termination of many workers. 

Jaba Garmindo Picket Line

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Uniqlo to respond. The report and Uniqlo's/Fast Retailing's response are linked below.

In October 2018, two garment workers, part of a group of 2000 workers from Indonesia, travelled to Japan to call on Uniqlo to pay the workers' compensation. The press release is available below. It asks supporters to leave an English message on Uniqlo's facebook page or Twitter.

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Item
22 April 2020

Clean Clothes Campaign calls on Uniqlo to pay £5.5 million severance pay owed to former Jaba Garmindo workers as COVID-19 crisis pushes them further into financial precarity

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

“Former Uniqlo garment workers vulnerable due to COVID-19 restrictions on fifth anniversary of factory closure”, 22 April 2020

. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) calls on Uniqlo, operating under parent company Fast Retailing… to … [pay] the full $5.5 million owed [2000 former Jaba Garmindo workers] under Indonesian law …

Since the sudden loss of their jobs, these workers have been forced into profoundly vulnerable situations, compounded by the current COVID-19 outbreak and restrictions. A large number have been unable to … work … [They] … will not be covered under the Indonesian benefits system or COVID-19 related funds …

Uniqlo has manifestly failed … in its clear moral responsibility towards these workers. International standards dictate that companies must address and remedy adverse human rights impacts of their business practices …

The CCC also calls upon UN Women … to take active steps with their global programme partner Uniqlo to address the suffering being faced by these former garment workers …

Organisations, individuals and brands who are conducting business relationships with Uniqlo are strongly urged to step up and call upon Uniqlo to protect the former … workers …

“The 2,000 workers of Jaba Garmindo have been waiting for five years and are now living in extremely perilous situations with no income or means to support themselves under COVID-19 restrictions. Uniqlo … must immediately … pay up ... We also call on UN Women to fulfil the aims of their partnership with Uniqlo by taking an urgent stand for women’s rights in the garment sector … Anything less is a contradiction of their aims,” said Ilona Kelly, Urgent Appeals Coordinator, Clean Clothes Campaign.

Read the full post here

Article
5 March 2020

Campaigners to demonstrate against Uniqlo’s failure to pay owed wages to former garment workers in closed Jaba Garmindo factory

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

“Campaigners call on Uniqlo to resolve wage theft cases for International Women’s Day”, 4 March 2020

Campaigners from the Clean Clothes Campaign and Labour Behind the Label will be marking International Women’s Day 2020 by holding a demonstration on Saturday 7 March outside Uniqlo’s flagship London store in solidary with 2,000 garment workers from the former Jaba Garmindo factory in Indonesia.

The majority of the Jaba Garmindo workers are women, and many are in desperate situation having been unable to find new work, either considered too old for new employment…or…blacklisted for their continuing campaigning efforts. Workers are now homeless, unable to afford nutritious foods, essential medicines or to continue to send their children to school…

Uniqlo owned by parent company Fast Retailing…[recently] signed a partnership with UN Women, the first formal alliance between a clothing company based in Asia and UN Women,…yet their lack of action to ensure remedy in this case is [contradictory]. “The workers…have waited long enough for the money they are entitled to…You can’t empower women workers if you don’t pay them…,” [Meg Lewis, Labour Behind the Label].

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Article
6 December 2019

Indonesia: Worker seeking Uniqlo severance pay demands UN and ILO supports workers as well as brands, following Uniqlo partnerships

Author: Chris Remington, EcoTextile

"Worker account calls out Uniqlo, cautions UN", 28 November 2019

An impoverished Indonesian garment worker which formerly produced for Uniqlo has written an account of her experiences within the lowest rungs of fashion supply chains, pleading with both the United Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to support workers, as they do big brands.

This comes as Uniqlo has secured partnerships with both UN Women and the ILO over recent months, through which the Japanese conglomerate has funded efforts to address labour issues across Asia.

“Since we started the #PayUpUniqlo campaign in 2017, Uniqlo has been trying to buy their way into being seen as a reputable company,” says Warni Lena, the female worker. Lena is believed to be one of many workers still seeking severance pay from Uniqlo after it pulled the plug on orders one night in 2015... 

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Article
1 November 2019

Indonesia: Clean Clothes Campaign & garment workers file complaint against Uniqlo & S. Oliver following ongoing campaign demanding compensation for factory closures

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

"Indonesian workers file FLA complaint against Uniqlo and S.Oliver", 17 October 2019

...Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) together with the workers of the Indonesian Jaba Garmindo factory group filed a complaint with the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The complaint is directed against Fast Retailing...and...s. Oliver for violating FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct and its “Principles of Fair Labor and Responsible sourcing”...

...As FLA affiliated brands, Uniqlo and s. Oliver are required to adhere to the FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct, which clearly state that companies must ensure their suppliers safeguard workers’ rights under national and international labour and social security laws. This includes the provision that workers receive all legally mandated compensation.

Since the factory closures...workers have demanded Uniqlo and s. Oliver accept their responsibility and collectively pay the workers $5.5 million owed in outstanding severance payments. Because legal processes have now been exhausted, workers turn to the FLA as one of the last available mechanisms for remedy...

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Article
4 February 2019

Indonesia: Labour rights groups call on Blackstone to pay $10.8 million legally owed to garment workers

Author: International Labor Rights Forum

"Labor Rights Groups Call on Blackstone to Pay $10.8 Million Legally Owed to Indonesian Workers", 4 February 2019

In light of new reporting by Ken Silverstein, the International Labor Rights Forum, AFL-CIO, United Students Against Sweatshops, and Global Labor Justice are calling on the Blackstone Group to pay Indonesian workers $10.8 million in legally owed terminal benefits. Four years after the Jaba Garmindo  factory closed, the workers are desperate to receive the approximately $2,700 each that they are owed.  According to Silverstein... the total amount owed is equivalent to “about half of what [Blackstone Chairman Stephen] Schwarzman reportedly spent on his 70th birthday party,” but for workers, their share represents “a sum larger than they are otherwise likely to see at any one time in their lives.”

In solidarity with the Indonesian workers, some of whom will be touring Europe this month to call attention to the case, international labor advocates are demanding Blackstone make the workers whole through a social media campaign and petition...

Read the full post here

Article
2 December 2018

Indonesia: Groups urge Uniqlo to clarify its commitment to re-employ workers and acknowledge wage settlement obligations

Author: Hannah Abdulla, Just-Style

"Uniqlo urged again to help Indonesia factory workers," 29 November 2018

Worker rights campaigners are continuing to urge Uniqlo-owner Fast Retailing to settle wage and severace payments at a former supplier in Indonesia - with the...corporation...saying tht even though it was not of the factory's major buyers it has made several offers to help workers find new employment.

Teddy Senadi Putra, a labour union PUK SPAI FSPMI at PT Jaba Garmindo, confirms Uniqlo repeated its offer for re-employment. "But we don't get any specifics of where this factory is location and how many people can be re-employed. And there can be no talk of re-employment without recognition that we are owed US$5.5m..."

Mirjam van Heugten, international coordinator at Clean Clothes Campaign, add: "Uniqlo...speaks of the promise of sustainability. However, sustainability brings with it an expectation of responsibility. It's about making sure your supply chain is not huring people's livelihoods, and that the people who make your clothes can live lives of dignity."

Read the full post here

Article
11 October 2018

Terminated workers of Jaba Garmindo factory in Indonesia call on Uniqlo to demand payment of wages

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

Today two garment workers, part of a group of 2000 workers from Indonesia, tour Japan calling on UNIQLO after the retailer turned down a request to meet earlier this week. The tour is part of the global Pay Up UNIQLO campaign taking place in Europe, the US, Indonesia and East Asia, uniting campaigners and workers in support of the worker’s fight for 5.5M USD in compensation after loosing their job when the Jaba Garmindo factory in Indonesia went bankrupt in 2015, two months after UNIQLO pulled its orders from the factory...

Prior to the closure, in April 2014, UNIQLO was contacted by labour rights activists following reports of labour violations including unlawful termination of pregnant workers, unpaid overtime, health and safety hazards, and trade union harassment at Jaba Garmindo... Final production was completed for the Japanese brand in October 2014. In January 2015 workers reported that wages were no longer being paid on time, by April 2015 the company had gone bankrupt, leaving workers unemployed and without the wages and severance they were owed.

[also refers to H&M, Nike, adidas and Walmart]

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Company response
23 July 2018

Uniqlo/Fast Retailing Response

Author: Uniqlo

Fast Retailing sourced from PT Jaba Garmindo in Indonesia for its UNIQLO brand from October 2012 to October 2014. Following quality issues and delivery delays in early 2014, we attempted to remedy the situation with PT Jaba Garmindo, but the company was unable to solve these issues within a designated timeframe, at which point it became clear we would not be able to continue doing business with the company.

 Over the duration of our relationship, Fast Retailing was not a major buyer from PT Jaba Garmindo. Nevertheless, we exited our relationship responsibly, gradually decreasing orders between April 2014 and the conclusion of our business with the company in October 2014. There has been no additional business with PT Jaba Garmindo since that time. Based on the minor UNIQLO share of the PT Jaba Garmindo production,  our withdrawal was not the cause of the company’s bankruptcy.

 However, we understand from our ongoing communications with the WRC and the trade unions, that some affected workers are yet to find alternative employment, and we sincerely empathize with these workers and their position. Accordingly, we have since worked with one of our partner factories located close the former Jaba Garmindo factory. We are now ready and waiting to assist with the re-employment of any former Jaba Garmindo worker who remains without a job, as suitable positions become available at this factory. To facilitate this re-employment, we have requested some cooperation from the trade union.”

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Note from Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:  The company released a statement in January 2018 and it can be accessed here.

Article
16 July 2018

Indonesia: Campaigners urge Uniqlo to pay workers of its Jaba Garmindo factory

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

"UNIQLO CEO: pay the debt owed to workers who made your clothes in Indonesia" 

 Uniqlo is refusing to pay workers who made their clothes in Indonesia after the sudden unexpected closure of the Jaba Garmindo factory. 

In 2014, Uniqlo and other major buyers withdrew orders from the Jaba Garmindo factory, without warning or explanation to the thousands of workers employed there. Just months after Uniqlo’s orders ended the factory fell into bankruptcy and the workers at the Jaba Garmindo factory - 80% of whom are women - went from having a reliable source of income to being left jobless and fighting for their livelihoods. Even worse, the money they are legally owed in unpaid wages and severance pay – amounting to at least $5.5 million - continues to be denied to them... 

The Jaba Garmindo workers have been fighting tirelessly and courageously over the past 3 years and now want our support...

Read the full post here