Sri Lanka: Brandix accused of ‘cracking down’ on trade unions & worker groups for voicing concerns over 'superspreader' event infecting 1,000 workers
In April 2022, Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) published a report alleging that Brandix Lanka and the Sri Lankan government escalated a campaign of repression against trade unions and labour groups in Sri Lanka, after they spoke out about a concert held by Brandix management that was allegedly in violation of COVID-19 protocols, and led to a COVID-19 outbreak in October 2020, infecting 1,000 garment workers.
According to the report, the retaliation included public threats and police searches of garment sector trade unions and workers’ rights organisations, police searches of union leaders’ homes and the head of the Sri Lankan Army threatening unions on TV. It said Brandix has also denied unions access to its worksites and told workers that there will be no unionization at their factories.
In April 2022, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Brandix to respond to the allegations and the report's recommendations which urge Brandix to respect freedom of association; end employment of ex-military officials; and engage in dialogue with women-led unions and workers’ organizations. Brandix said the allegations are unfounded and referenced an investigation by the Attorney General's office which found there was no evidence Brandix had contributed to the COVID-19 outbreak. Brandix also denies intimidating and escalating reprisals against the unions. In a rejoinder, AFWA and GLJ-ILRF alleged there were several inaccuracies in Brandix's response. Brandix responded, stating it stood by its initial statement. The full responses can be found below.