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12 Mar 2021

War on Want

Sri Lanka: Next accused of union busting after it allegedly refuses to engage with FTZ&GSEU union despite legal requirement to do so

“Why union-busting must go out of fashion at Next”, 12 March 2021

In January 2021 … garment workers at a Next owned factory in Sri Lanka … formed a new branch of the FTZ&GSEU trade union … Now, nearly half of the garment factory workers are members of the trade union. According to Sri Lankan labour laws, this means that Next, as an employer, should accept the trade union as representative of its workers and engage in negotiations with them...

Replying to War on Want and Labour Behind the Label’s letter asking why Next has not recognised the union, Next replied … “We would also want to involve our Next Manufacturing Limited employees and the Joint Consultative Council, so that we can assess whether union involvement at Next Manufacturing Ltd is generally desired by our employees and is in the best interests of the workforce”.

This is not a decision for the company to make, as workers decided what was in their best interests when they joined a trade union of their choice…

Next said: “we would very much welcome the opportunity to enter into discussions with the FTZ&GSEU union” but then cite Covid-19 travel restrictions …. [Next] already use[s] remote video conferencing for other meetings…

This is a clear case of union-busting…

At a time when workers require more protection and representation than ever before, trade unions play a critical role in safeguarding workers’ rights … Next garment workers’ struggle to unionise and bargain collectively is important in an industry where too often fashion companies get away with denying workers these basic rights.

That is why we are calling on Next to make a public statement recognising the FTZ&GSEU trade union at its Sri Lankan factory by 19 March 2021, and agreeing to start talks with the union before the end of March 2021.