News from 2011
December 14 marks the first anniversary of the fire at That's It Sportswear garment factory in Bangladesh. The fire on December 14, 2010, caused the death of 29 workers, and injured a number of others, eleven of them seriously. The factory, belonging to the Hameem group, supplied US brands and retailers, including JC Penney, VF corporation, Gap, Philips Van Heusen, Abercrombie & Fitch, Carters, Kohls and Target.
After a long standing campaign launched by Clean Clothes Campaign in November 2010 and a recent petition hosted by Change.org, Giorgio Armani SpA agreed to ban the dangerous practice of sandblasting jeans, a technique used to give jeans a used look which is highly dangerous to workers.
The Clean Clothes Campaign is dismayed by the outcome of the legal case against human rights defender, lawyer and blogger Charles Hector.
The next hearing against human rights defender and activist Charles Hector is rapidly approaching (23 August), but the Japanese company taking Charles to court, Asahi Kosei, still refuses to drop the case.
Clean Clothes continues to focus on the remaining brands which have not responded to our call for banning sandblasting or whom have refused to communicate with us. They mostly happen to be Italian luxury brands – Roberto Cavalli and Dolce and Gabbana.
Last Monday July 25 2011, after 84 days detention, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was brought to the criminal court to hear the prosecutor's charges against him.
After an intensive campaign launched by the Clean Clothes Campaign and recently hosted by Change.org, the Italian textile brand Versace has just announced that it will join other denim manufacturers around the globe in calling for a ban on the practice of sandblasting.
We urgently call upon you to take action once more in support of Thai human rights activist and journalist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who has been in jail now on charges of 'lese majeste' for 2.5 months.
The luxury Italian brand Versace de-activated its Facebook wall after activists posted dozens of messages demanding that the company ban sandblasting. Scores of other denim producing brands have already publicly banned sandblasting, a technique which can kill the workers involved, but Versace, along with Armani, Dolce & Gabbana have failed to address the issue or even enter into a dialogue with CCC.
Ongoing talks between the former M&S supplier, Viva Global and the Garment and Allied Workers Union have broken down after five union members employed at the factory were attacked with a cane and a knife by a security guard employed by the company.
After a three hour trial on 24 June, in Phnom Penh; Sous Chantha, Cambodian union leader and former employee of United Apparel Garment factory was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment for drug distribution. The sentence was reportedly set at seven months plus five days time-served and two months suspended sentence. After some discussion with legal officials, Sous was then released after the prosecution stated its decision not to appeal.
On 24 June, after 8 months imprisonment, Sous Chantha is due to appear in court. We all hope he will be released. The CCC issued a letter to the Cambodian government calling for his immediate and unconditional release and for the reinstatement of Sous and the other workers who were dismissed after a national strike for higher wages in September 2010. The CCC is also in touch with the relevant brands to demand the reinstatement of the dismissed workers.
Today in Copenhagen activists from over 10 European Clean Clothes networks held a demonstration outside the Thai Embassy to protest at the continued detention of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk. Activists handed over a letter to the embassy representative, demanding the release of Somyot. We were told by the Embassy that Somyot had been released but we now know this is not true – we believe the Embassy made a mistake – in an ironic twist of fate Somyot was released on 13 June 2010.
Several hearings in the defamation case against human rights defender and activist Charles Hector have taken place since our last update. On June 10, 2011, the High Court judge refused the application filed by Charles Hector to join 31 Burmese migrant worker as parties in the defamation case against him. This would protect these workers against possible deportation. Charles Hector has appealed this decision at the Court of Appeal, but the court refused to grant a stay of the proceedings until after this appeal has been heard.
A historic agreement which follows two years of negotiations after the Playfair 2008 campaign was signed. The pact which addresses core labour rights issues in Indonesian factories was signed by Indonesian textile, clothing and footwear unions, major supplier factories and the major sportswear brands, including Adidas, Nike and Puma.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to contact the Thai government and request the release of the well-known Thai human-rights activist and journalist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who was arrested on April 30 on charges of lèse majesté, or the crime of insulting the king. Please also support this new appeal.
Just recently a judge in the case against Kalpona Akter and Babul Akhter from the Bangladesh Workers Solidarity Center (BCWS) and other labour leaders decided that the accused will have to appear in court next month under a system designed to speed up the trial process.
42 workers from the Viva Global factory in Gurgaon, India have returned to work over six months after they were locked out following a violent attack on union members.
We need your support to demand the immediate release of the well-known Thai human-rights activist and journalist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk. He was arrested on April 30 on charges of lèse majesté, or the crime of insulting the king. This accusation can lead to a maximum of 15 years in prison and is criticised for being used to silence political opponents and human-rights activists. The Clean Clothes Campaign signals that charges of lèse majesté have over the last two years increasingly been used to silence labour-rights activists.
On April 16 2011, the severely injured survivors of the 2005 Spectrum factory collapse as well as the families of the deceased workers received a final lump sum compensation payment during a ceremony in Dhaka. Estimates from worker representatives peg the number of injured workers at 8, and the number of families of deceased workers between 58 and 64. CCC regrets that Inditex has failed to provide us with the exact numbers, despite numerous attempts during the last 14 months to obtain this information. The ceremony was attended by Inditex (Zara), BGMEA, BNC, NGWF, ITGLWF, the ambassador of Spain and the Minister of Commerce. The event was covered extensively in the national media.