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Brands Urged to Bear Responsibility in Shenzhen Factory Strike

Trade unions have initiated a solidarity action to support strikers in the Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherwear factory, which belongs to a Hong Kong company Lever Style Inc, and have called on brands and retailers to aid in the effort to settle the strike.

Non-profit organization Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) reported that the action targets the buyers of Artigas, Hong Kong local brand G2000 and Japanese brand Uniqlo, which source from the factory, for their failure to closely monitor the behavior of the supplier.

Beginning on Dec. 10, thousands of workers from Artigas staged a strike against the factory for its insufficient contribution of social insurance and housing provident fund. A majority of the workers have been working in the factories for more than 10 years, yet the factory has contributed to the social insurance fund for only five to six years.

With several of the workers at retirement age, they are greatly affected by the factory’s neglect to help with a retirement fund. Workers are demanding compensation of the unpaid social insurance in arrears. Still, the factory has not given any positive response to the workers and has even threatened to fire them for taking part in the strike.

SACOM said in its press release, “We urge the brands to bear the responsibility because they failed to monitor the supplier to follow the law. We concern the interests and livelihood of the workers.”

It added, “We demand the brands to urge the factory to have equal negotiation with the workers representative within this week and to ensure no retaliation against the workers by the factory. The brands should also proactively investigate into the workers’ complaints regarding on their social insurance.”

Lever Style is a widely known company with three garment factories in Shenzhen and employs more than 4,000 in the workforce. Even with factories in other regions of China, the company does not abide strictly the local law.