More than 1,000 garment workers in Thailand who were sacked after their lingerie factory for Victoria’s Secret closed down last year, will receive a total of US$8.3 million in compensation.
David Welsh, Thailand country director of the Solidarity Center, a workers’ rights advocacy group in the United States, said, “This is a huge win for the workers and testament to their union and international solidarity campaign”.
In March 2021, 1,250 workers from the Brilliant Alliance Thai Global lingerie factory were made to leave without severance pay after the factory was declared bankrupt.
The Clover Group, a Hong Kong-based factory owner, was ordered by the government to pay the workers within 30 days, but it refused, telling the sacked workers that it had no money and asking them to wait 10 years for their full payment.
As a result of the Solidarity Center’s advocacy for Triumph International Union members, they launched a campaign to demand their severance pay.
Workers’ Rights Consortium (WRC) and Solidarity Center pressed Victoria’s Secret and Sycamore, the parent company of Lane Bryant and Torrid, to ensure the workers were paid.
In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, this was the largest theft – and back payment – from an individual garment factory, according to WRC Executive Director Scott Nova.
Victoria’s Secret gives loan
A settlement of $8.3 million financed by Victoria’s Secret in a loan agreement with the owner of the Brilliant Alliance Thai Global factory could set a precedent for global brands to better protect workers’ rights in the future, said Mr. Nova.
“The severance they earned was effectively their entire life’s savings,” Mr. Nova said, adding that the money had been stolen from them when they were fired and is now being restored.
“Victoria’s Secret should be proud of what it has accomplished here,” he said. The people behind Sycamore Partners should hang their heads in shame.”
It was initially unclear how much of the settlement Victoria’s Secret would cover.
According to an emailed statement from the company to Reuters, the factory’s owner was unable to resolve the matter independently.
Executive of Clover and board member of the bankrupt factory Emily Lau said the payment would be made from “the personal resources of owners Angie and Emily Lau”, but did not mention the loan from Victoria’s Secret.