Cambodia: 1,200 former Violet Apparel workers demand US$1.4 million unpaid compensation and damages after factory closure; Incl. responses from intl. fashion brands
In July 2020, Violet Apparel - a garment factory in Cambodia producing for international brands - suddenly closed, leaving approximately 1,284 workers without jobs and legally owed compensation. Former Violet Apparel workers and their union are demanding US$1.4 million unpaid compensation and damages, which workers are entitled to under Cambodian law.
In October 2020, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited brands reportedly buying from Violet Apparel - C&A, Nike and Carter's Inc. - to respond. Carter's Inc. did not respond. C&A responded and said it had ended the relationship with the supplier in July 2019. Nike responded and said that it had not sourced from Violet Apparel since 2006, although labour groups say they have evidence that Violet Apparel workers were producing clothing for Nike for many years, at least through the end of 2019. In a rejoinder, the Cambodian Alliance for Trade Unions confirmed workers have been making Nike products at Violet Apparel for years and called on Nike to take responsibility for compensating workers.
This case is featured in BHRRC's report, Wage theft and pandemic profits: The right to a living wage for garment workers, released in March 2021. Nike submitted an updated statement in response to the report, which said an independent investigation of the allegations found no evidence that Nike products were manufactured at Violet Apparel in recent years. Further, it said Ramatex Group - Violet Apparel's owner - has addressed the situation independently and engaged in an arbitration process which resulted in a binding decision, which they have acted upon.
In March 2022, following renewed calls from workers and unions for major buyers of Ramatex Group to take responsibility for the former Violet Apparel workers, BHRRC invited Matalan, Nike, Under Armour and Uniqlo to respond. Matalan said it had received written confirmation from Ramatex management that the majority of Violet Apparel workers had collected the compensation legally owed to them, and that workers who had not collected their compensation were urged to contact Ramatex. Uniqlo said it had made contact with Ramatex and requested the issue be handled promptly and in accordance with Cambodian law. Nike said its response remained unchanged from the previous statement to BHRRC. Under Armour did not respond. The full responses and statements can be found below.