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June 25, 2020

H&M caught in crossfire as India factory closure leaves 1,000 jobless

Swedish garment brand H&M has found itself at the centre of allegations regarding worker layoffs at one of its Indian supplier facilities after a factory closure resulted in more than 1,000 employees left out of work.

By Hannah Abdulla

Swedish garment brand H&M has found itself at the centre of allegations regarding worker layoffs at one of its Indian supplier facilities after a factory closure resulted in more than 1,000 employees left out of work.

The New Trade Union says more than 1,000 workers at a garment factory in Karnataka have lost their jobs without warning after H&M cancelled its orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The workers have reportedly been protesting outside the Gokaldas Exports-owned factory where a notice reads: “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.”

According to The New Trade Union, H&M is the only brand the factory has been manufacturing for in 2020 and in 2019 it manufactured almost 90% of products for H&M.

In an email to just-style, a spokesperson for H&M assured the orders at the supplier were on “similar levels” as they were during the same period last year.

“We are also fulfilling our payments for goods in accordance with contracts, on time and at the originally agreed price.

“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. We are acutely aware that garment workers are in an extremely vulnerable situation.

“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.”

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