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Workers at Closed Thai Lingerie Factory Still Waiting on Wages

Hundreds of workers who produced lingerie in Thailand for brands such as Ann Taylor owner Ascena Group, Lane Bryant and Victoria’s Secret are still fighting for unpaid wages and severance despite authorities ordering the factory to shell out what it owed before it shut down.

The furor began on March 10 when Brilliant Alliance Thai Global closed its facility in Samut Prakan province, leaving 1,388 workers without jobs. Union leaders and workers said they were given no warning in contravention of Thai labor law, which requires employers to provide a month’s notice and honor outstanding financial commitments such as unpaid wages and unused annual leave.

On March 24, the labor protection and welfare office of Samut Prakan ruled that Brilliant had violated multiple sections of the labor protection act and had to pay 242.22 million baht ($7.4 million) to roughly 1,200 complainants within 30 days or risk a default interest of 15 percent per year or a criminal lawsuit.

Brilliant later offered to pay the owed amount over a 10-year period, according to the international union federation IndustriALL Global Union, but the proposal was rejected by workers. The factory is now in the process of filing a bankruptcy notice.

“It is extremely disappointing that the company violated basic labor laws and ignored the order of the labor inspector,” Prasit Prasopsuk, president of Confederation of Industrial Labour of Thailand, said in a statement. “The company claimed they had negotiated with the union, but in fact, the company unilaterally asked the union to accept installment payments lasting up to 10 years. This only benefits the company.”

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A representative from Hong Kong’s Clover Group International, which owned Brilliant, said that the company had made a “formal and reasonable proposal” on April 2 to settle the factory’s debt in installment payments to all its workers, but that despite its “endless best efforts to seek an amicable solution,” the unions had refused to engage in a “constructive dialogue and/or provide a sensible counter-proposal.”

“In these circumstances, the company had no other choice but was rather forced to enter into the liquidation process, which is currently being initiated in full compliance with the laws of the Kingdom of Thailand,” the representative told Sourcing Journal. “[Brilliant] management will continue to, as it has been all along, follow the required legal procedures as the process is taking its due course.”

Annie Adviento, South East Asia regional secretary at IndustriALL, urged Clover to pay workers in full according to the order of the provincial labor office. She further asked Victoria’s Secret to “intervene in the dispute to protect workers’ rights.”

Both Clover Group and Victoria’s Secret said that the lingerie giant did not place any orders with Brilliant in 2021 and in previous years had represented only a small portion of the factory’s production. Ascena Group and Lane Bryant, which trade data from Import Genius showed received shipments from Brilliant this year, did not respond to requests for comment.