|Garment Workers protest in Pakistan|
From Nasir Mansoor Deputy general secretary National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF
International exporter renders 1,000 workers jobless
‘Joe’s Fashion’ likely to render 4,000 more workers jobless by closing anther factory
A garment factory, Joe’s Fashion Export situated in Korangi Industrial Area (KIA) has shut down business and rendered around 1,000 employees jobless without taking labour department functionaries on board which was mandatory formality to be fulfilled.
Most of the workers had served this garment factory for more than 20 years and they are getting panicky now as to how to get their legal dues. Out of these 1,000 employees there are 650 female workers who have served this factory for so many years.
This is pertinent to mention here that all these workers were registered with Social Security Institute and Employees Old-Age Benefits Institute (EOBI). These workers have factory’s cards but their appointment letters are in possession of the factory’s management and they were never handed over these letters. However, the factory had no labour union in it which might have pleaded the workers’ case to get them justice accordingly.
The factory was closed on January 17 without fulfilling legal procedure. For closing down any factory the management is required to inform the workers besides intimating Labour Department about it letting this institute know the reasons of closure.
Afterward the owners are required to submit the details of dues in Labour Court which it owes to the workers. In the labour court final settlement is made but nothing like it was done before locking the factory.
The factory in question is one of the major exporters of garments to European Union and some known international brands like H&M, Tom Tailors, C&A, Zara, ST-Magor, Orchestra and some others had been buying finished products from this company.
This factory was also certified by ISO 9001 and Bureau Veritos had awarded it with the certificate of Quality Management.
Generally international brands claim to buy merchandise from only those manufacturers who fulfill all standards including provision of due rights of workers at their workplaces. However, in this case they did not bother to probe whether the manufacturer, Mohsim Ayoub Mirza was fulfilling his duties or not. The factory in question is situated in the sector 27 of KIA and currently its finished products, raw material and machinery is being shifted to some other factory under the supervision of armed guards. The products and machinery is being shifted to Rija Fashion, a factory which is owned by the brother of Mirza.
Uzma is affected employee who has served Joe’s Fashion for around 31 years as helper whereas Abdul Jabbar has worked as storekeeper for nearly 25 years in this factory. Likewise, another worker Hanif has served this factory for 23 years as Fabric Incharge.
All these workers are running from post to pillar to know about their dues’ clearance and their status at the moment.
The owner of the factory has many more branches of the factory under different names in international cities like Madrid, Paris, Sharja, UAE and in Sri Lanka besides owning three subsidiaries branches in Karachi.
The same owner is also shutting another of his factory today (January 31) which is situated in Export Processing Zone (EPZ) where the livelihood of around 4,000 workers is associated.
The representative of workers, National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) has moved an application to Labour Department on Wednesday and sought justice for the affected employees. The NTUF is of the opinion generally the industrialists shut down some industry to get rid of their debts or to wave off banks’ loans. THE NTUF has demanded from the government to seal the assets of the owner of the factory due to his noncompliance of labour laws and ditching them thoroughly. The NTUF also demanded from international brands to take notice of the situation and make the owner bound to follow international labour standards.
This move of the owner has also disturbed the local suppliers and they are also wandering where to get their pending dues. A female Chinese supplier is also looking here and there to about the whereabouts of the owner to get clear her dues.
Deputy General Secretary
National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
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