Jaba Garmindo, Indonesia
With Jaba Garmindo sudden bankruptcy, two thousands families lost their livelihood
The Jaba Garmindo factory went bankrupt in April 2015. Just months earlier, the Japanese brand Uniqlo had pulled all its orders. The workers made clothes for Uniqlo and s.Oliver and were left without the severance pay they were legally-owed.
Uniqlo is the third biggest clothing retailer in the world. The brand made huge profits over the pandemic, and is valued at $9.2 billion. Tadashi Yanai, the chairman and biggest shareholder of Fast Retailing (parent company), has a personal net worth of $26.4 billion. Uniqlo continue to deny any responsibility towards the workers and still refuse to pay.
The documentary ‘How to Steal Your Workers’ Future’ highlights the urgent need for brand accountability, as well as the exponential rise in severance theft cases since Covid-19.
The Fair Labour Association (FLA) began an 18-month investigation, hampered by Covid, resulting in a report published in July 2021. The FLA investigator issued recommendations that both Fast Retailing and s.Oliver, along with the other 18 brands who sourced from the factory, pay into a financial relief fund for the workers. No financial relief is made yet.
2,000 Jaba Garmindo workers continue to call on Uniqlo to acknowledge its responsibility and pay the $5.5 million owed in severance. Uniqlo continues to deny any responsibility for these workers and refuses to meaningfully engage with the issue.
The Jaba Garmindo workers have suffered extremely negative and life- changing affects from being denied severance pay for so long. Indonesia offers no social security or benefits to cover periods of unemployment, which is the unofficial role fulfilled by severance payments. Many former Jaba Garmindo workers are desperate, borrowing money at high interest rates from loan sharks in order to survive. Some are destitute, unable to afford to send their children to school or pay for medical care when necessary. Re-employment has been difficult for many as, due to their age and the length of time they worked at Jaba Garmindo, they are now considered too old to get a new job. Others have been blacklisted due to their continued efforts to secure the severance payments they are owed.
Extensive global public campaigning, which included Clean Clothes Campaign sponsoring two workers to travel to Tokyo to try and hold a meeting with Uniqlo. Uniqlo refused to meet with them.
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Following a global public campaign, Uniqlo invited union representatives to a meeting hosted and facilitated by the Indonesian office of ILO Better Work. The ILO facilitator described the purpose of the meeting as an opportunity for Uniqlo to gather information and hear worker testimonies about labour violations prior to and in connection with the factory closure. The meeting concluded with all parties agreeing to a follow-up meeting where discussions would be continued. Subsequently, the union approached Uniqlo to organise the follow-up meeting, as agreed, but Uniqlo refused to re-engage. Uniqlo sent the union a take-it-or-leave-it offer that they would 'make efforts' to find re- employment for the workers. This offer was not only vague but did not address the primary concern of wage theft and severance rights violations.
Jaba Garmindo is declared bankrupt, leaving 4,000 workers suddenly unemployed, owed back pay for several months work as well as legally- required severance pay.
Court case over bankruptcy, in which Jaba Garmindo workers were listed as 'primary creditors'. They received the back pay they were owed but nothing towards the severance payment they were due. Bankruptcy documents cite the withdrawal of orders, as a result of the WRC investigation, as the primary cause of bankruptcy. Owners also cite brands purchasing practices as a contributing factor.
Workers report that wages were not being paid on time. Legal claims were filed against Jaba Garmindo by two of the company's creditor banks, due to failure to repay debts
Uniqlo is rapidly expanding their market around the world. In July, we action and asked Roger Federer, who just struck a 30 million deal with Uniqlo, to tell Uniqlo to pay the workers. In August and September, on the day a new store opened in Sweden and The Netherlands, we action and flooded Uniqlo's social media. Uniqlo responded after a series of campaign, but they walked away from mediation process and refuse to make substantial offer to the workers. Now we need to keep the pressure on, a public push clearly makes them move. Will you help spread the words and urge Uniqlo to be responsible?