Continued denial of right to unionise

published 26-05-2014 15:05, last modified 06-01-2015 14:21
Workers at a garment factory near Lahore are continuing their fifteen-year struggle against union-busting practices by the factory management.

As of late 2014, the Ittefaq Mazdoor Union reports that workers are facing increasing difficulties at the factory. These include delays in payment of their salaries, discrimination against workers in the district where the factory is located, dismissal of three workers and increased restrictions on the contact of workers with the trade union.
The legitimate union activity is being further obstructed by the management, which continues to delay ongoing court cases by not appearing at the hearings and refusing to send any legal representatives. The Clean Clothes Campaign's work behind the scenes with the brands and other stakeholders continues. We hope to see a positive impact on the ground soon.

2014: new buyers

Last year, the brands Mustang, Mango, Bershka and Takko have been identified as new international buyers of the Pakistani factory. The Clean Clothes Campaign, together with the Ittefaq Mazdoor Union (IMU), has engaged in communication with the European buyers.

We informed them about the situation at the factory and demanded that they take steps to guarantee the right to freedom of association, to facilitate the referendum on union recognition, to ensure reinstatement of 29 fired workers with payment of back wages, and that all criminal charges against the workers and their union be dropped.

Furthermore, Clean Clothes Campaign Germany contacted the Fair Wear Foundation about the case. The Fair Wear Foundation has initiated an investigation plan given that the factory produce for the German brand Takko, an affiliate of FWF.

Background

Since 1997 the Ittefaq Mazdoor Union has been fighting to gain recognition at the factory, and to raise labour rights violations such as long working hours, wage and payment issues and critical health and safety concerns.

Reported actions taken against the union by the factory management include court cases and injunctions, the firing over a thousand workers because of their trade union membership, setting up fake (so-called ‘yellow’) trade unions in order to undermine the work of the Ittefaq Mazdoor Union, and refusal to comply with court orders for a union referendum.
After nine years 29 workers continue to pursue these cases through the courts.

Support by Clean Clothes Campaign

The relentless union-busting led the trade union to contact the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) for international support in January 2013. CCC has been in contact with several brands with production at the factory, including Adidas, Esprit, Next, Levi's and the Varner group. Together with the union, CCC has been pushing the buyers to reinstate the 29 workers in their original jobs with back pay, to hold a referendum on union recognition and to drop all legal charges against the workers and the union.