Victoria’s Secret pays $8.3m settlement to sacked Thai workers

Over a thousand sacked Thai garment employees who made bras at a manufacturing unit supplying lingerie big Victoria’s Secret have obtained a landmark $8.3 million settlement, labour rights activists stated.

BANGKOK – Over a thousand sacked Thai garment employees who made bras at a manufacturing unit supplying lingerie big Victoria’s Secret have obtained a landmark $8.3 million settlement, labour rights activists stated Saturday.

Brilliant Alliance Thai closed down its Samut Prakan manufacturing unit in March 2021 after going bankrupt.

But the 1,250 laid-off employees, a lot of whom had labored on the manufacturing unit for over a decade, didn’t obtain severance payouts mandated underneath Thai legislation.

The manufacturing unit additionally produced underwear for plus dimension American manufacturers Lane Bryant and Torrid, owned by Sycamore Partners however solely Victoria’s Secret contributed to the settlement through a mortgage association with the manufacturing unit’s homeowners.

Victoria’s Secret confirmed in a press release that an settlement had been reached, however didn’t point out the quantity concerned.

“Over several months we had been in active communication with the factory owners to facilitate a resolution,” the corporate stated.

“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,” it added.

Former employee Jitnawatcharee Panad had clocked up 25 years on the manufacturing unit and stated over a 3rd of the sacked employees have been girls aged 45 and older.

“If we hadn’t fought for fair compensation, we wouldn’t have received anything,” Jitnawatcharee, who can also be president of Triumph International Workers’ Union of Thailand, instructed AFP.

“The doors of the Labour Ministry were locked when we went there to seek help and the minister didn’t seem to want to listen to our problem.”

The settlement is the largest-ever wage theft settlement at a person garment manufacturing unit, the worldwide employees rights group Solidarity Centre stated.

“I think it’s extremely unprecedented and represents a new model – the scale of severance and interest paid on it… as well as direct engagement by the brand,” Solidarity Center Thailand nation director David Welsh instructed AFP.

For the previous yr, sacked employees and Thai union representatives have protested exterior Government House in Bangkok calling for his or her pay.

Confederation of Industrial Labour of Thailand president Prasit Prasopsuk stated some protesting employees had been charged with prison offences, together with violating public gathering guidelines in the course of the pandemic.

“This case serves as a lesson in the future for the government… to ensure that foreign companies doing business in Thailand allocate some portion of monthly profit for fair compensation when these companies cease domestic operations,” he stated.

A Worker Rights Consortium report from April final yr stated it had documented related wage theft instances at 31 garment factories in 9 international locations.

Worker Rights Consortium government director Scott Nova stated these instances have been simply the “tip of the iceberg” and that the problem of wage theft within the garment business had exploded in the course of the pandemic as clothes orders declined.

He estimated garment employees worldwide have been owed $500 million because of manufacturing unit closures and unpaid severance.

Some employees on the Samut Prakan manufacturing unit had obtained the equal of greater than 4 years’ wages final week, he stated.

“It’s like the equivalent of a worker’s life savings… and it’s simply stolen. What it means to lose that and get it back is difficult to capture in words,” Nova added.

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