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25 May 2022

Jasmin Malik Chua, Sourcing Journal,
// La Tribune avec AFP (France)

Thailand: Garment workers at former Victoria’s Secret supplier secure $8 million severance pay win after 13-month campaign


"Victoria’s Secret Intervenes in Thai Workers’ 13-Month Wage Struggle", 25 May 2022

Hundreds of Thai garment workers’ 13-month battle to recover their unpaid salaries has finally come to a close.

Victoria’s Secret and Hong Kong’s Clover Group have agreed to compensate the 1,388 former workers of Brilliant Alliance Thai Global following the factory’s unexpected shutdown last March. Clover owned Brilliant until it shuttered, while Victoria’s Secret was a former customer alongside Ann Taylor owner Ascena Group, Torrid and Lane Bryant.

The $8 million settlement comprises wages, benefits and severance, plus 15 percent in annual interest. Brilliant, which is in the middle of bankruptcy and liquidation proceedings, previously offered to settle the debt in installment payments over 10 years. Workers’ representatives at Triumph International Thailand Labour Union rejected this, however, citing the economic hardship such a scheme would inflict while a pandemic was still raging.

The money derives in part from the personal coffers of Clover Group owners Angie and Emily Lau, who worked “ceaselessly together” with the support from Victoria’s Secret to raise the necessary funding, the company said.

“As female entrepreneurs, they completely empathize with the workers and took it on themselves as their personal responsibility to fulfill the obligations of the bankrupt company,” a spokesperson told Sourcing Journal.

Victoria’s Secret previously said that it did not place any orders with Brilliant in 2021 and in previous years made up only a fraction of the manufacturer’s production. Still, the lingerie giant came under tremendous activist pressure....

The company said that it has been in “active communication” with the factory owners over several months to “facilitate a resolution” even though none of its merchandise was being produced by the factory at the time of its closure.

“We regret they were not ultimately in a position to conclude this matter on their own so to ensure the workers received their full severance amounts owed, Victoria’s Secret agreed to advance the severance funds to the factory owners,” Victoria’s Secret said. “We are pleased to share that an agreement was reached with the worker’s representatives and [the] Thai government, and the workers have been paid all money owed to them by [Brilliant], including interest.”

“We remain deeply committed to serving as a strong corporate body and ensuring our products continue to be ethically sourced and manufactured with the highest supplier standards,” the Pink purveyor continued. “We will continue to hold ourselves and our partners accountable for the high standards we set for the fair treatment of workers.”...