Over 1,200 factory workers in India have lost their jobs after H&M allegedly cancelled orders without warning.
According to The News Minute, one anonymous factory worker at the Euro Clothing Company in Srirangapatna, Karnataka said:
It came without warning… when half of the workers were outside the factory and the other half was inside getting ready to leave, a notice was stuck and announcements were made on a mic stating that we were being laid off.
The layoffs were to take effect just two days after the employees were told, according to the factory manager. The announcement also confirmed that the workers would only be paid half of their remaining wages.
The company that owns the factory, Gokaldas Exports, also released a statement:
The lay-off is due to reduction and cancellation of orders from its customers based out of key markets consequent to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a result, thousands of people have continued to protest outside the factory, despite coronavirus social distancing measures.
Videos of the protests appeared on social media, where people began calling out H&M:
H&M then responded to one tweet, confirming they are “in dialogue with the supplier and the trade unions to resolve the conflict peacefully”:
A spokesperson for H&M told indy100:
Covid-19 has caused an unprecedented situation for the whole industry. The drop in customer demand will inevitably have an impact on production levels, in particular when a country has been in lockdown for a long period, as is the case with India.
We are acutely aware that manufacturing suppliers and garment workers are in an extremely vulnerable situation. However, at this point, our orders at this specific supplier are on similar levels as during the same period last year. We are also fulfilling our payments for goods in accordance with contracts, on time and at the originally agreed price.
The supplier wants to lay off workers at one of its units (out of 20 in total) and the conflict between the supplier and the trade unions is about different interpretations of the national law. We are in close dialogue with both parties to help them resolve the conflict peacefully and reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.
Will you still be shopping at H&M?