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Dignity Returns is a Bangkok-based, worker-managed cooperative that produces garments under conditions free of slave labor.
The Solidarity Factory was created as a workers’ cooperative by ex-employees of Bed and Bath. They were made redundant without being paid any compensation as required by Thai law. This company produced brand named clothing for export. The company produced for Nike, Adidas, Gap, Reebok and UMBRO, brands which are supposed to be covered by a Code of Conduct in employment. Yet, the company never complied with any Code of Conduct and treated its staff like slaves. Working hours were often as long as 60 hours of continuous work. Employees were given addictive drugs to keep them awake. Deductions were made from earnings without due cause. Employees found eating lemons were fined 2000 baht. Those caught yawning were fined 500 baht. Often workers were physically abused and they were not allowed to form a union. In the end the factory was closed without paying owed wages or compensation. [Read More...]
The demonstrations ended on January 31, 2003 – a day that will be remembered for the workers’ success in persuading the Employees Welfare Fund Committee to change its regulations regarding emergency assistant pay. Previously, workers had been entitled 30 times the minimum wage; after the protest, emergency assistant pay increased to 60 days of minimum wage to workers over six years of work. The workers also won back pay for those who had not yet received it.
October 2002 – January 2003 : for 3 months and 10 days, 350 workers had protested in front of the Ministry of [Labor]. They represented 800 workers from Bed and Bath factory who were laid off without paying or severance when the factory had been closed and its manager fled the country. Gathering at the Ministry of Labor, these workers demanded the rights guaranteed to them by law.
In the end, the former Bed and Bath workers each received approximately 14,800 baht from the Employees Welfare Fund and 2,000 baht from the the Department of Social Development and Welfare.