Taking social responsibilities is not talking without action
“GLOBAL SOLIDARITY ACTION TO SUPPORT ARTIGAS' WORKERS” Response to Fast Retailing Statement on 16 July 2015
The Artigas workers' strike has been going on for more than 40 days since Jun 9 2015, but the management is still employing evasive and oppressive means to deny the workers from their pension and legitimate rights. Trade unions and labour organizations from at least 8 areas worldwide launched a solidarity action on 15/7 to support the workers on strike and demanded Fast Retailing Co, Ltd (here after Fast Retailing), as the customer of Artigas, not to distance herself from the dispute by merely terminating all tides with Artigas. In response to the statement issued by Fast Retailing on 16/7, we would like to point out that the arguments in the statement totally disregarded evidence and complaints put forward by the workers and only adopted Artigas' side of the story. It is obvious that Fast Retailing is unable to fulfill her obligation in corporate social responsibility. The arguments from Lever Style Inc, the parent company of Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Factory, which was fully adopted by Fast Retailing are full of distortions:
- Dialogue with the workers disrupted, telephone hotline is not a two-way consultation: Since 5/6, Lever Style has been rejecting the worker's request for collective negotiation. Despite a meeting was held between the management and the workers' representative’s on1/7 and 2/7, no agreement was able to be reached. Subsequently, Lever Style unilaterally terminated any further negotiation and announced that they would only communicate with the workers individually. The establishment of the telephone hotline is merely a perfunctory gesture since Lever Style has already turned away from collective negotiation. In an open letter to UNIQLO on 9/7, Artigas workers demanded the management to return to negotiation on equal terms, and denounced the means of dialogue proposed by the management.
- Fast Retailing only adopted the management's side of argument without taking the justifications and complaints from the workers' side in consideration: According to a workers' statement released on 28/6, the management should consult all employees regarding plans for plant relocation and changes of employment contract. Such consultation should be conducted on equal terms and the management shall not refuse collective consultation with employee representatives. Moreover, the workers have repeatedly stressed that issues such as social security contributions, overtime and high temperature allowances arrears have yet to be resolved and complaints have been put forward to government officials twice. Thus, Fast Retailing cannot be considered as safeguarding the rights of the workers diligently if they were making conclusion without objective investigation.
- Artigas dismissed a workers' representative who proposed collective negotiation: Both open letters from the Artigas workers and labour organization has pointed out that the Artigas management has already dismissed workers' representative Wu Weihua and prevented her from entering the factory.
If Fast Retailing is taking Corporate Social Responsibility seriously, they should better put their words into actions. Instead of merely issuing statements of concern, we would like to urge Fast Retailing to take a firm stance on ensuring labour rights are being respected in her entire supply chain:
- Immediate action to solicit and arrange collective negotiation meeting between the management and workers on equal terms, and send representatives to attend the meeting;
- Carefully examined the complaints which are put forward by the Artigas workers, conduct an independent investigation, and contact workers directly;
- Immediately instruct the management to repay all severance and social security contribution arrears according to law;
- Assist to release Wu Weihua from detention.