Garment manufacturer Gokuldas Exports has decided to re-employ 1,257 workers laid off as the H&M supplier closed one of its factory near Mysuru. As per an agreement signed this month with Gokuldas, two Indian unions and global federation IndustriALL will allow Garment and Textile Workers' Union (GATWU) to negotiate in any factory where at least 20 per cent of the workers were members.
The factory in question was the only one among more than 20 facilities which was unionized, IndustriALL said. According to the agreement, the laid-off workers will be rehired in other Gokaldas factories by August. In several garment-producing countries -- from India to Cambodia and Myanmar -- activists say factory bosses have used the economic fallout from the pandemic as an excuse to target and fire union members while keeping on non-unionized workers.
The lay-offs were illegal under Indian federal labor law because Gokaldas' management had not engaged with the state government before closing the factory, according to a report in December by the Alternative Law Forum - a legal research group. Hundreds of workers at the factory protested for about 50 days after the mass firing, and continued to do so despite threats from bosses at Gokaldas.