WINNIPEG, July 11, 2017 /CNW/ - The sudden closure of a garment factory linked to Canadian and UK brands has left 208 workers in Cambodia without jobs or compensation. A year later these workers are still fighting for justice.
On July 1 2016, 208 workers of the Chung Fai Knitwear Factory found themselves unemployed without notice, severance pay or their final salaries. Well over half of these workers had been employed at the factory for more than ten years. The workers claim an amount of US $550,000 is needed to cover their final month's salaries and lawful severance pay.
"Our understanding based on correspondence with the workers is that this factory produced more than 60% of its product for Nygård. Since Nygård is a company that prides itself on taking corporate social responsibility seriously, we expect them to act," says Barry Fowlie, Director of Workers United Canada.
After their sudden dismissal, the workers – the large majority of them women – were left to fend for themselves. And so they did. They stood up for their rights by preventing the owners from selling the remaining assets from the factory, through physical occupation of the factory as well as legal measures.
Labels carrying the names of Canadian brand Nygård as well as British brands Marks and Spencer and Bonmarché were collected by workers in the factory. All three brands initially denied contractual relationships with Chung Fai.
Bonmarché later admitted that their clothing could have been made at the factory. Bonmarché communicated with their official supplier that no future orders would take place until the case was resolved. Nygård and M&S continue to deny any involvement.
Vann, 64, who worked in the factory for more than 13 years, said: "I feel sick very often now. If I am paid my compensation I will seek medical treatment."
Clean Clothes Campaign, Workers United Canada, and Maquila Solidarity Network have repeatedly contacted M&S, Bonmarché and Nygård urging them to take responsibility.
The Chung Fai workers and these international labour organisations are now launching a public campaign to call on the brands to compensate the people who made their products for years.
For more information:
- The campaign page www.cleanclothes.org/Chung-Fai includes the workers' video, several workers' stories, and a call to action
SOURCE Workers United Canada Council
For further information: Ryan Hayes, Workers United Canada, 416-997-3385 or [email protected]