Workers at Fast Retailing supplier strike over move

Source:Reuters-Global Times Published: 2015-6-16 23:23:01

Hundreds of workers are on strike over a relocation plan at a factory in southern China that supplies to clothing brand Uniqlo, labor rights groups said on Tuesday.

The workers at the factory of Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Co began the strike on June 8, Alexandra Chan, project officer of Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), told Reuters. They are also demanding that some employees who have been dismissed be rehired, she noted.

Shenzhen Artigas Clothing is part of Hong Kong-based Lever Style Inc, which supplies garments to several leading global brands, including Armani Exchange and Calvin Klein. Lever Style has been shifting manufacturing from China to Vietnam and other factories in Southeast Asia over the past several years, its executives have been quoted in media reports as saying.

The management of the Shenzhen factory was not immediately available for comment. Officials from Lever Style in Hong Kong were not immediately available for comment, while its chairman and chief executive, Stanley Szeto, did not immediately reply to an e-mail request for comment.

Fast Retailing, the owner of Uniqlo brand, confirmed that some workers at the garment factory are on strike, although it did not provide numbers.

"While we are in the process of confirming the facts related to the strike, we have requested the management of Lever Shirt Co to discuss this matter with the workers and reach a peaceful resolution," Fast Retailing said in an e-mailed statement.

Major manufacturers have been moving some of their production away from southern China to inland or to other Asian countries such as Vietnam as labor and production costs escalate.

In March, thousands of workers at a factory of sports shoe maker Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings in the south of the country went on strike following changes to production processes.

Shenzhen Artigas Clothing itself witnessed a strike by factory workers in December 2014.

SACOM's Chan said 900 workers have gone on strike in June.

A Shenzhen-based labor rights group, which declined to be identified, put the number at between 400 and 500, saying many of the workers had left the factory since the December strike.

"The factory has stopped running. The workers are having a sit-in protest inside the factory," a spokesman of the Shenzhen labor rights group said. "The employer said they would not relocate [the facilities] following the strike in December, but in May they started to move [operations] again. This time the workers have decided to fight through to the end."

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