Mauritius: Closure of garment factory supplying to ASOS & John Lewis leaves migrant Bangladeshi workers unpaid & stranded; ASOS outlines remediation efforts
In July 2019, the Dhaka Tribune reported that workers in Mauritius had been left without jobs and two months' wages after their employer, Tex Knits garment factory, had ceased operations. Among those affected were Bangladeshi migrant workers left effectively stranded without food and adequate shelter after the factory cut off the water and electricity supplies to the their dormitories.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre traced ASOS and John Lewis & Partners as brands sourcing from Tex Knits garment factory, based on public records, and invited them to respond to the situation. Both companies confirmed they had been sourcing from Tex Knits until it had gone into liquidation. The full responses are included below.
In its response, ASOS outlined remediation actions it has been taking, including liaising with unions, the factory liquidators and the Mauritian government. ASOS said it had ensured the reconnection of electricity and water suppliers to the workers’ accommodation and the provision of an ongoing food allowance. It stated that workers have been paid wages owed for June and confirmed the remaining outstanding wages would be paid by the liquidators in full by 26 August. Of the 151 affected workers, ASOS identified 83 as Bangladeshi migrants and is speaking to the Mauritian government about repatriating those who wish to return home, while working to find employment for those remaining. It has also asked the Mauritian government to meet its responsibility regarding the adequate and proper payment of severance pay under local law.
John Lewis & Partners said it had stopped sourcing from Tex Knits this year since the factory went into liquidation.
UPDATE [October 2019]: We invited ASOS & John Lewis to provide an update on the situation and impact on former workers. ASOS said it had not seen the progress it had hoped for and the initial promised payment date for outstanding worker wages has now moved to 11 October, while 19 migrant workers from Bangladesh have been repatriated without being paid wages owed. A number of workers have been redeployed into other businesses while they await payment of owed wages and ASOS is following up on the remainder. Further, an ASOS approved manufacturer for Tex Knits - Tara Knitwear - went into administration in August; Tara Knitwear remains operational and ASOS is monitoring the situation. The full update is included below. John Lewis did not provide an update.
This is a developing story and we will continue to monitor the situation and update as we receive further information.