Victoria’s Secret gives laid off Thai garment workers $8.3 million in compensation

Lingerie company Victoria’s Secret has given a ‘wage theft’ payment of 8.3 million USD to 1,250 laid off Thai garment workers, who have been fighting for severance payments for over a year since their factory in Samut Prakan, central Thailand, went bankrupt and closed down in March 2021.

Some workers received the equivalent of more than four years wages under the settlement, which is considered the largest ever wage theft settlement to occur at a single garment factory, according to workers rights organisation Solidary Centre.

The factory – in Samut Prakan’s Bang Sao district – was owned by ‘Brilliant Thai Alliance’, who provided garments to Victoria’s Secret and American plus-size clothing brands Lane Bryant and Torrid.

Under Thai law, terminated employees are entitled to severance payments. The rates vary depending on how long the employee worked at the company, eg. if they worked for 1-3 years they are entitled to 90 days wages, or if they worked 6+ years plus they are entitled to 240 days wages or salary. Some of the workers had worked at the factory for 25 years, and many had worked there for over a decade.

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For more than a year, the sacked workers – mostly women aged 45 years and older – protested for their payments outside Government House in Bangkok. In their fight for pay, some protestors were arrested and charged for “violating public gathering rules during the pandemic.”

At first, the Thai government demanded the factory’s owners to pay the garment workers their legally-mandated severance pay within 30 days. However, the owners said they had no money and employees should expect to be paid in full within 10 years.

Workers rights organisations Solidarity Centre and the Triumph International Union launched a campaign on behalf of the Thai garment workers. The organisations pressed Victoria’s Secret, Lane Bryant and Torrid to get the workers the pay they deserved.

Victoria’s Secret stepped up and paid a total of $8.3 million. Sycamore – the parent company of Lane Bryant and Torrid – didn’t contribute to the settlement at all.

“Victoria’s Secret should be proud of what it has done here… The people who run Sycamore partners should hang their heads in shame,” said Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium Scott Nova.

SOURCE: The Guardian

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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