What’s the problem?
Three years ago, the Clean Clothes Campaign received an urgent request for support from the local level Indonesian union FMPSI, after the Jaba Garmindo factory in Tangerang, Jakarta Indonesia, went bankrupt in 2015. Only months earlier, the Japanese brand Uniqlo had pulled all its orders and the workers were left without the severance payments they were owed.
A coalition of workers, unions, labour groups, migrant organisations and feminists got together to make sure the workers who lost their jobs get compensated for their tremendous hard work. The #PayUpUniqlo Campaign was born. The strength of the coalition of organisation and the lasting energy of the group of workers pushed Uniqlo to the negotiation table in 2018. With Uniqlo trying to take over the European and US markets, we remain committed to the workers.
In April 2015, two Indonesian clothing factories closed down over night without paying legally required severance payments and several months of wages to its mostly women workforce. The factory closures followed the sudden bankruptcy of the company after its major buyers, most notably UNIQLO, withdrew their business from the factory. The thousands of workers employed by Jaba Garmindo were given no warning that their factory was in trouble and many found themselves suddenly unemployed after decades of working for the company.
Since the factory closures, 2000 Jaba Garmindo workers have been demanding UNIQLO accept its share of the blame in what happened to their factory. Legal processes have now been exhausted and there is nowhere else to go for their payment. Many workers are older and have little chance of finding new employment; despite their many years of work the low wages they received during that time mean they have little savings to fall back on.
How can this be solved?
Under Indonesian law, the workers are owed a total amount of 5.5 million USD. Tadashi Yanai, the owner of Fast retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, is one of the richest people in Japan. We are demanding Uniqlo make sure the workers receive the full severance payment they are entitled to, to be able to pay off their debt and finally start their lives again. Whether this is done by getting all former buyers to contribute, or by a contribution from Uniqlo, is up to Uniqlo.
Many of UNIQLO’s closest competitors have agreed to contribute to the payment of severance claims in cases where a supplier went bankrupt. Nike, adidas, Disney, Fruit of the Loom, Hanesbrands, H&M, Walmart, and Jack Wolfskin have all taken active steps to ensure that workers received wages and severance payments owed when supplier factories went bankrupt. These buyers either directly provided the funds owed to workers themselves, or pressed their supply chain partners (factory owners, buying agents, etc.) to do so, so that the workers received the sums that they were due under law.
‘It’s plainly unjust that workers who made Uniqlo clothes suffer needlessly, while the Uniqlo brand continues to grow and thrive, generating billions in profits. The money we are owed, we earned over years of working hard to make Uniqlo clothes, and to refuse to pay us is tantamount to wage theft,’ says Teddy Senadi Putra, of Labour Union PUK SPAI FSPMI formerly at PT Jaba Garmindo.
Latest news on this campaign
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March 4, 2020
Campaigners from the Clean Clothes Campaign and Labour Behind the Label will be marking International Women’s Day 2020 by holding a demonstration on Saturday 7th March outside Uniqlo’s flagship London store in solidarity with 2,000 garment workers from the former Jaba Garmindo factory in Indonesia.
October 17, 2019
After years in which Uniqlo refused to engage in a serious mediation process, Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) together with the workers of the Indonesian Jaba Garmindo factory group filed a complaint with the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The complaint is directed against Fast Retailing, parent company of the Uniqlo brand, and German brand s. Oliver for violating FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct and its “Principles of Fair Labor and Responsible sourcing”, designed to ensure the “respectful and ethical treatment of workers” and to “promote sustainable conditions” in the garment industry.
April 2, 2019
Former Uniqlo garment workers attend flagship store opening in Denmark to highlight Uniqlo’s wage-theft
Between 2 and 7 April, two Indonesian garment factory workers, who made Uniqlo clothing for years, will be in Copenhagen as part of the global PayUp Uniqlo campaign.
November 28, 2018
On 14 November 2018, Uniqlo walked away from a mediation process in Jakarta without making any substantial offer to former union representatives of the Jaba Garmindo factory, which went bankrupt in 2015 as a result of Uniqlo´s predatory purchasing practices. Following the unexpected factory closure, four thousand workers, mostly women, found themselves in huge debts and without prospects of employment