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THAILAND: Employees who produced F&F jeans for Tesco in Thailand were “locked in effective forced labor.”

According to a Guardian investigation, Burmese laborers who made F+F jeans for Tesco in Thailand claim they were effectively forced to work under harsh conditions for 99 hours per week for illegally low pay.

130 former employees of the VK Garment Factory (VKG) are suing Tesco in a historic case in the UK for claimed negligence and unjust enrichment. Between 2017 and 2020, the employees produced F&F clothing for adults and children, including jeans, denim jackets, and other garments, for Tesco’s Thai division.

The claims made by the former factory workers were investigated into by Guardian, who also spoke with 21 of them in Mae Sot. Some of their working descriptions are:

1. Working from 8am to 11pm for as little as £3 per day, with just one day off per month.

2. According to meticulous records kept by supervisors that were obtained by the Guardian, the majority of the employees on their lines received daily wages of less than £4 and were only compensated for earnings. At that time, an 8-hour day’s minimum pay in Thailand was £7.

3. One man claimed to have need 13 stitches after cutting into his arm while carrying a dangerously heavy interlocker machine. Another claimed that when producing F&F denim jackets, he severed the tip of his index finger while using a button machine.

4. Many claimed that factory supervisors yelled at and threatened them if they did not continue to put in extra effort and meet goals.

5. More than a dozen of the workers who were questioned claimed that the firm opened bank accounts for them before seizing the cards and passwords, allowing them to pretend to be paid the minimum wage while actually receiving significantly less in cash.

6. Overcrowded rooms with concrete floors and unclean pond water in a bucket served as the only lodging options in the factory complex. Most rooms, according to the workers, only had a curtain for a door

7. Large F&F orders required them to work through the night for 24 hours at least once a month, and they eventually became so worn out that they passed out at their sewing table.

The WFTU is on the side of all the peoples of the world and fights for the defence of trade union and democratic freedoms and the inalienable right of peoples to decide freely and democratically on their present and future.

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