OPEN LETTER TO UNIQLO and G2000

Urge for actively shouldering corporate social responsibility

Respect workers’ rights and dignity

 24 December 2014

On 17 December 2014, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) initiated a solidarity action in front of the store of G2000 and UNIQLO in Festival Walk to support the strikers in the Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherware factory, together with representatives from other groups care about the well-being of Chinese workers, such as Globalization Monitor (GM), Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union (HKCTU), Hong Kong Liaison Office of the International Trade Union Confederation (IHLO). We protested against UNIQLO and G2000, as the major buyers of Artigas, failed to monitor the labour conditions of their supplier and have failed to take an active role to solve the labour disputes.

Nearly thousand of workers started the strike on the 10 December for the social insurance payment arrears. However, there was no response from the brands until 19 December. Fast Retailing Group (6288.HK), that owns UNIQLO, has issued an online statement claiming that the company is not in a position to comment on labour negotiations at its individual manufacturing partners but urge the supplier to solve the problem rapidly. Legislative councilor Mr. Michael Tien Puk-sun, who owns the brand G2000, has written a statement on his personal Facebook, claiming that G2000 will investigate into the strike and reserve the right to pursue the matter through legal procedure for the tarnish of his brand’s reputation by the factory.  SACOM is disappointed by the response from the two parties, which not only reflect their irresponsibility in the issue, but also indicate that the brands are putting reputation before the worker rights. The cause for the ongoing strike is indeed the brands’ failure in effective monitoring of their supplier and has led to a thousand of workers losing their pension after retirement. We believe that UNIQLO and G2000 are accountable to bear the corporate social responsibility and ensure labour rights are well protected.

Starting from the 10 December, nearly thousands of workers from Artigas Shenzhen staged a strike against the factory for the insufficient contribution of social insurance and housing provident fund. During the strike, the factory threatened to sack the strikers. On 18 December, hundreds of police stormed into the factory to clear the way for the factory management to ship the finished clothing to UNIQLO. 31 leading strikers were arrested and one of them was hospitalized for serious head injuries, many other workers were injured as well, including pregnant women workers who were beaten up by the police. After detainment for more than 12 hours, the 31 arrestees were finally released. In fact, most of the strikers have been working for more than ten years in the factory. Yet, the factory has just contributed the social insurance fund for five to six years only. Some workers also reflect that the factory asked them to fix the payment arrears on their own. According to the Chinese Labour Law, workers only become eligible for pension benefits at retirement if they have participated in the scheme for at least 15 years. These workers are at their retirement age, they are deeply affected by the misbehaviour of the factory and the ineffective monitoring of the brands.

While the new year is coming, SACOM urges UNIQLO and G2000 to:

1. urge the factory to pay back the pension and remedy all the violations ;

2. urge the factory to have fair negotiation with workers’ representatives

3. ensure no retaliation to the strikers;

4. face squarely the use of violence by the factory to suppress the strike

 

Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior