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Article

9 Jul 2021

Author:
Annie Kelly, The Guardian

Asia: Labour rights group files legal complaints against brands to hold them accountable for alleged rights violations during COVID-19 pandemic

"Top fashion brands face legal challenge over garment workers’ rights in Asia", 9 July 2021

Legal complaints are being filed against some of the world’s largest fashion brands in major garment-producing countries across Asia …

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), a pan-Asian labour rights group, says it is using legal challenges to argue that global clothing brands should be considered joint employers, along with their suppliers, under national laws and be held accountable for alleged wage violations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two of these complaints have already been filed with the authorities in India and Sri Lanka, with further complaints pending in Indonesia and Pakistan…

A similar legal complaint has been submitted to the labour commissioner in Sri Lanka against Levi Strauss, Columbia Sporting Company, Asics, DKNY and Tommy Hilfiger claiming they are acting as “shadow employers” at a supplier factory in Katunayake where workers lost their jobs and did not receive full pay.

… Columbia Sportswear Company said that it had received no evidence of a complaint to the labour commissioner. It said it did not cancel orders or re-negotiate product costs for open orders, adding: “We believe that the strategies we enacted were able to reduce the impacts of the global pandemic on our supply chain partners and their employees.”

Asics also said it had not received notice of the legal complaint, and said that it did not agree with the argument that it had a joint business relationship with its suppliers…

Levi Strauss declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said it had taken full responsibility for orders placed before the onset of the pandemic and had provided more than £1m in grants to organisations supporting garment workers.

DKNY and PVH, the owner of Tommy Hilfiger, did not respond to requests for comment.

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