Garment and Fashion Workers Union (GAFWU), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union through Unions United, won a long drawn out legal battle against SLAM Clothing Pvt. Ltd which had locked out and dismissed workers using fraudulent letters with fake signatures.
On 6 August, an industrial tribunal awarded reinstatement of the 150 workers illegally locked out by the management, along with payment of back wages and seniority benefits.
The management of SLAM Clothing, which has a factory near Chennai, locked out workers to stop workers from entering the factory following the union’s demand for the payment of outstanding wages. Instead of engaging with the union or approaching the government for permission to close the factory as is required under law, the management chose to block workers from entering the factory. This means the factory was unilaterally shut by the management who also forged workers’ signatures on the resignation letters.
GAFWU raised the matter of the illegal lock-out with the Labour Commissioner’s office. Due to the management’s refusal to participate in the conciliation process, there was no agreement reached between the management and the workers. Thus, the Labour Commissioner’s office referred the matter to an industrial tribunal for adjudication.
The court order granting payment of back wages will help the union fight for the recovery of wages against SLAM Clothing.
Palani Bharathi, General Secretary of GAFWU said:
“Our fight will only intensify from here. We have won the battle in the courtroom but management that arrogantly chose to sit out the entire proceedings still needs to be held accountable for the serious violations of workers’ rights.”
“We applaud the workers’ court victory against the anti-union antics of the management at SLAM Clothing, and hope that this comes as a lesson to some employers that more can be achieved in building industrial peace by listening to workers’ grievances and paying their wages on time,”
says Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL regional secretary for South Asia.