A recent video circulating on social media shows hundreds of protesters positioned outside the factory gates of H&M’s supply factory, Euro Clothing in Bangalore, India. More than 1,000 workers in a garment factory have reportedly lost their jobs without warning, after H&M is said to have cancelled their orders due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Garment workers at H&M supplier factory Euro Clothing in Bangalore, India protest the factory closing after H&M cancelled orders and refused to pay for work done. pic.twitter.com/aqJmTnUsu8— jeffhermanson (@jeffhermanson) June 22, 2020
After the close of business at 5:30 pm on Saturday, June 6, an announcement was reportedly made informing workers that the 1,200 staff members would be laid off immediately. It was also announced that the workers would be paid half of the wages owed, though the factory would remain non-operational.
A notice at the factory read: “The management of the company has decided to lay off the workers at Srirangapatna plant with effect from June 8, 2020, in the interest of the plant and also to save the employment of the workmen.”
Further, it said, “The adverse circumstances prevailing in India, as well as the countries where overseas buyers are located, has resulted in overseas buyers cancelling their orders or withdrawing their orders and there is uncertainty about the market conditions.”
Since the announcement, the sacked workers have been protesting outside the Euro Clothing Company factory (ECC-2), owned by Gokaldas Exports, in Srirangapatna, Karnataka, according to The Independent.
In response to the widely-circulated video, H&M took to social media to release a statement. The Swedish multinational wrote, “The drop in customer demand due to COVID-19 will inevitably impact suppliers, however we are placing orders with this supplier and we fully stand by our responsible purchasing practices. We are in dialogue with the supplier and the trade unions to resolve the conflict peacefully.”
The drop in customer demand due to COVID-19 will inevitably impact suppliers, however we are placing orders with this supplier and we fully stand by our responsible purchasing practices. We are in dialogue with the supplier and the trade unions to resolve the conflict peacefully.— H&M Customer Service (@hm_custserv) June 22, 2020
On Tuesday, June 23, an H&M spokesperson also told The Independent: “Covid-19 has caused an unprecedented situation for the whole industry. The drop in customer demand will inevitably have an impact on production levels, in particular when a country has been in lockdown for a long period, as is the case with India.”
“The supplier wants to lay off workers at one of its units (out of 20 in total) and the conflict between the supplier and the trade unions is about different interpretations of the national law. We are in close dialogue with both parties to help them resolve the conflict peacefully and reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.”