Victoria’s Secret agrees to fund $8.3 million settlement for laid-off Thai workers

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BANGKOK, May 27 (Reuters) – Thai workers who were laid off last year from a factory supplying global lingerie brands including Victoria’s Secret will be given $8.3 million, as part of what activists unions consider to be the largest such settlement in the global garment industry.

About 1,200 workers were dismissed without severance pay or due wages by Brilliant Alliance Thai Global Co Ltd (BAT) after it went bankrupt and closed its factory in Samut Prakan province in March 2021.

The incident was one of “hundreds of wage theft cases” that union activists say have taken place in the garment industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The settlement, funded by Victoria’s Secret as part of a loan agreement with the owner of BAT, could set a precedent for global brands to better protect the rights of workers in their supply chains, according to Scott Nova, director executive of the Worker Rights Consortium, an international labor advocacy group.

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“Global brands need to realize that they are not passive investors, but trendsetters in setting labor standards,” said David Welsh, Thai director of the Solidarity Center, a labor rights group. based in the United States.

More than a year after BAT and its Hong Kong-based owner Clover Group refused to pay laid-off Thai workers, Victoria’s Secret & Co said in an emailed statement this week. It will provide a loan to Clover owners to fund the settlement.

It was unclear how much of the settlement Victoria’s Secret would cover, saying in the statement that the BAT owner was not “able to close this deal on his own” so the company “agreed to advance severance pay to factory owners,” without disclosing the amount.

A Thai Labor Ministry document seen by Reuters showed the total payment to workers, including related costs, was 285.2 million baht ($8.36 million).

Clover initially said workers would have to agree to wait 10 years to be paid in full.

Emily Lau, a Clover executive and bankrupt BAT board member, said Friday the payment will be made with “the personal resources of the owners, Angie and Emily Lau,” but did not mention the loan from Victoria’s Secret.

($1 = 34.1500 baht)

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Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Kanupriya and Nick Zieminski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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