Union stronger through struggle

published 03-10-2013 14:16, last modified 10-10-2013 14:13
The Unitex Exports factory in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, illegally closed down on November 1st 2011. 120 workers were left jobless without receiving compensation, retirement benefits, health insurance or overdue wages. The workers’ union has become stronger through dealing with these issues, and launched a Fair Wage campaign in May.

Unitex workers in protest
After pressure by the workers’ union GAFWU, the company has been forced to pay all its unpaid dues with interest. However, there is still an issue of workers who resigned more than a year ago, who are yet to be paid their gratuity and pension fund dues. In India, the Gratuity Act requires companies to pay workers a certain amount upon termination of their contract or when they leave the company.

The Clean Clothes Campaign sent two letters to Unitex, but there was no response from the company.

What do companies and Multi Stakeholder Initiaves think of the CCC? *

“CCC has been one of the defining influences on code of conduct over the last 10 years. Codes of conduct have moved from being a fringe idea to a central plank of single CSR policy in the industry. A large part of that is because CCC internationally have been a champion for the role of brands taking action... and have placed and kept the issue in the public domain.”

“CCC have had impact by raising our awareness, triggering the development of our code of conduct and our subsequent mechanisms on monitoring, disclosure practises, decision to join MSI, training and follow-up.”

“If there is a critical situation in a factory that we have not become aware of ourselves, we do of course react immediately, if this is brought to our attention by CCC.”

“All activities raise awareness but do not change policies, urgent appeals have most impact to improve or change the way of working with a supplier or improve a situation if needed.”

* Quotes from internal report that assesses how Clean Clothes Campaign's labour rights corporate accountability work, including the Urgent Appeal system, has impacted corporate behavior between 1994 and 2010.

Pins Brown, 2010. Impact Assessment of Corporate Accountability Activities of Clean Clothes Campaign. Unpublished report on file.