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AMSTERDAM – 1,388 garment workers at a Thailand-based supplier of US lingerie fashion brand Victoria’s Secret have yet to be paid severance a year after the factory closed. Clean Clothes Campaign has now set up a website to highlight the issue.

For 15 years, workers at Clover Ltd’s factory in Thailand – mostly women with families – sewed lingerie for Victoria’s Secret. In March 2021, the factory fired 1,388 workers without notice.

The Thai government ruled the company had violated Thai labour law, and ordered it to pay 242.22 million baht in compensation to the workers within 30 days. Now, with interest accrued, that amounts to US$8.5m.

Victoria’s Secret has been accused of rank hypocrisy over its continued refusal to offer financial support to the garment workers.

Under UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), it is the responsibility of internationally operating companies to ensure human rights are respected in their supply chains, through active prevention and mitigation of adverse human rights impacts.

In other words, if a supplier goes bust – as is the case here – it is incumbent on the multi-national buyer to take some responsibility for workers affected, including supporting any financial settlements.

Said a statement from Clean Clothes: “The workers continue to fight for the compensation they are owed, supported by their union and activists all over the world united in the #PayYourWorkers campaign. Apart from calling on brands to remedy wage theft in individual factory cases, this campaign urges brands to sign a binding agreement to create a fund to ensure workers in their supply chains are never again robbed of their legally owed severance when factories close.”

The new website by Clean Clothes quotes Martin Waters, Victoria’s Secret CEO, as saying: “I have a bold ambition that Victoria’s Secret should be the world’s biggest and best advocate for women.”

Waters takes home US$4.3m per year.

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