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September 19, 2008

Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger Supplier
Sacks 19 Workers for Organising Against
Sex Discrimination

Over a year ago, 26 workers at the PT Mulia Knitting Factory in Jakarta, Indonesia formed a union to fight the factory's violation of their rights. The factory reportedly refused to pay female workers their pregnancy and miscarriage leave and failed to offer transportation for female workers after the night shift. In addition, the factory had failed to pay mandatory health and pension benefits, often did not provide adequate safety equipment and kept workers on precarious, temporary contracts.

As soon as the union leaders announced the formation of the SBGTS union
to the factory management, the union president was suspended and three
other union officials dismissed. Fifteen other union officials and
members were called into the office, and given the choice between
renouncing the union or being transferred to another factory, PT Spindo
Mills, located 60 kilometers away. Although all workers kept reporting
to the factory gates of PT Mulia Knitting Factory in the mornings, they
were dismissed for not showing up at PT Spindo Mills. At the same time,
the factory filed cases against the union for using the address of the
factory in the union's letterhead (a common practice in Indonesia) and
tried to make the Labour Ministry revoke the SBGTS official register number.

Since then, the union has been fighting for reinstatement and filed
cases with the Labour Ministry and the Indonesian National Human Rights
Commission (Komnas HAM) to defend the right to freedom of association.
On April 7, 2008 the Commission issued its recommendations after having
met with both the union and PT MKF management, concluding that the union
rights of the 19 workers who were dismissed after joining SBGTS had been
violated. But when the union called on the local labour department to
follow up on this recommendation, the local authorities, who are
notoriously corrupt, disregarded the Commission's ruling and ruled in
favour of the company.

See also
for the detailed Worker Rights Consortium's report of the violations at

Since the negative outcome of the local labour department's mediation,
the situation remains in a deadlock. The company refuses to meet with
the union and instead has sent its lawyers firm to deal with the
severance payment for all the nineteen dismissed workers.

The CCC has contacted the buyers of the factory and requested their
joint action in support of the freedom of association. While one of the
buyers, Phillips van Heusen, has pushed for reinstatement of the 19
workers, and tried to get the other buyers on board, Tommy Hilfiger and
Polo Rauph Lauren have sat idly by while the 19 workers struggle to feed
their families. Polo Ralph Lauren has never responded to CCC. Tommy
Hilfiger informed the CCC that it had conducted an audit in January
2008, but it refrained from speaking to the workers involved and instead
only consulted the management-backed union, SPSI. Tommy Hilfiger refused
to take any follow-up action to date.

Unfortunately this case stands not on his own, and time and again,
urgent cases of labour violations in Indonesia reveal the abuse of
short-term labour contracts and the pervasive infringement on workers'
freedom of association, their right to organize and bargain
collectively. The Clean Clothes Campaign and Oxfam Australia call on all
brands sourcing from Indonesia, and in particular Tommy Hilfiger and
Polo Ralph Lauren, to implement sector-wide solutions to ensure that
workers in Indonesia are guaranteed their rights and are treated with
the respect and dignity they deserve. See "Sector-Wide Solutions for the
Sports Shoe and Apparel Industry in Indonesia."

Join the Indonesian workers in their struggle to change the garment
industry in Indonesia, and give them your support in this case by
writing to Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren to ensure that their

- Immediately reinstates the 19 workers at their previous positions
(including rights and length of service) with payment of the outstanding
wages and social premiums since the date of dismissal/suspension/transfer.

- Respects the right to freedom of association and recognizes SBGTS-GSBI
as one of the unions at PT MKF, including respecting the rights of
SBGTS-GSBI to organize members within the factory. Intimidation and
criminalisation of PT MKF workers who are willing to join the SBGTS-GSBI
union should be ceased immediately.

- Proactively adopts and posts a "Freedom of Association Policy" for all
their facilities, which includes the statement that management will not
use transfers/ demotions/ or promotions as a means to deter a worker
from affiliating and/or participating in the union of their choice.

- Meets in person with SBGTS-GSBI to resolve the outstanding labour issues

- Pays wages to the 19 dismissed workers while the legal process runs
its course.

Take action now at: this link

Posted by cat at 07:52 PM