Thanks to eight-month struggle and international solidarity campaign, the Garment and Textile Workers’ Union (GATWU) has signed an agreement with H&M supplier Euro Clothing Company, Bengaluru (Gokaldas Exports) that recognises the union and reinstates all the 1,257 workers.
IndustriALL, a leading trade union, announced that most of these workers are women.
Just a few days back, Gokaldas Exports signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with GATWU, their national centre NTUI and IndustriALL.
Few of the most important points of the MoU include that all 1,257 workers, who were employed when the factory was shut, will be offered work if they apply before 15 March 2021.
Though the Euro Clothing Company will remain shut, workers will be offered employment in two other factories, in addition to being provided transport to the factories.
GATWU will be recognised as the sole bargaining agent for three years in any factory where they have more than 20 per cent membership.
During the lockdown when COVID-19 was at its peak, Euro Clothing Company 2 (ECC-2) factory was closed owing to lack of enough orders. Consequently, the factory fired all 1,257 workers.
As per trade unions, the firing was illegal under Indian federal labour law.
The trade union also said that before and after the closure of factory, managers were engaged in an aggressive union busting campaign. This included travelling to workers’ hometowns and villages and threatening them.
The workers, however, did not back down and launched a sit-in at the factory as soon as the closure was announced, which continued for 50 days and resulted in workers receiving pay that was owed to them.
IndustriALL launched an international campaign, which included a Global Day of Action on 4 September, while in India GATWU continued putting pressure on the company.
Prathibha R., President, GATWU, said “It was the determination of the union and its members, along with international solidarity, that ensured that an agreement like this, which has never been seen before, can be signed. GATWU will continue to organise garment workers and build its strength.”
A fantastic #UnionWin during against the backdrop of this pandemic: after an 8 month struggle & international solidarity, Indian union GATWU won back the jobs of 1,257 women workers who were fired from @hm supplier Gokaldas.#GarmentWorkersNeedUnionshttps://t.co/QYtWcDiFfL
— IndustriALL (@IndustriALL_GU) February 8, 2021