International trade unions warned that Sri Lanka should correct serious violations of codes of conduct after the global clothing giant J Crew pulled out its future orders from the local suppliers.
Industrial Global Union (IGU) releasing a statement said that employers should stop blaming trade unions for the loss of orders and concentrate on the real issues, in order to build a viable and sustainable export industry.
The union secretary Jyrki Raina in his letter to employers said that the clothing giant had made it clear that it had halted its orders not due to allegations brought by unions or even the existence of violations, but the company’s refusal to partner with it to remedy those violations.
IGU said that the company had cracked down on workers’ organisations and refused to meet with trade unions to resolve the problem through discussions.
“When the company refused to even meet, the union sought the intervention of the labour authorities, but still no progress was made. So, the union then took the next logical step and asked the buyer, J Crew, to intervene to ensure respect for its code of conduct,” the statement said.
“J Crew investigated and confirmed the allegations, while also confirming something it already suspected: That Mirrai did not have in place the necessary management systems expected of a company operating in global markets,” the statement said.
The statement further said that J Crew was forced to pull out of the company after it indicated in action and writing that it had no intention of making the necessary changes, even though the clothing giant had sought to implement an action plan to remedy violations.
Meanwhile, Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU) said that it had made all efforts to speak with the management during the crisis. Union General Secretary, Anton Marcus said that the members of the union had gone through extreme difficulties when a branch of the union was formed.
“Many were harassed and we had no choice but to take the matter to local authorities. When there was no response, we had no choice but to take the matter to the clothing giant,” he said.