After 13 months of protest, 1,250 Thai workers who sewed bras for Victoria’s Secret, Lane Bryant, and Torrid received the news that they will receive backpay for lost wages during the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, a major campaign from Clean Clothes and Remake asked customers to demand that Victoria’s Secret pay legally mandated severance to workers who lost their job with Thailand’s Brilliant Alliance, where they made clothing for the aforementioned brands.
David Welsh, Thailand country director of the Solidarity Center, said in a press release, “this is a huge victory for the workers and a testament to the courage of their union and the strength of the international solidarity campaign that supported them.” He went on, “low-wage garment workers left destitute by injustice meted out by global supply chains is nothing new. What’s new is they did not accept their fate—and won. We also hope this represents a model for the type of domestic, governmental, international, and brand engagement to resolve future cases where garment workers are left in similarly desperate straits.”
Historically, brands have separated themselves from the problems that go on in the factories, and this is a major move from Victoria’s Secret. Hopefully it will set a precedent going forward that workers and customers will not accept the practice any longer.
New York State Signs the Adult Survivor Act, Backed by Model Alliance, Into Law
On Tuesday, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivor Act into law. According to the New York Times, the act will allow “adult victims who were 18 or older at the time of the alleged abuse, a one-time opportunity to file civil lawsuits in New York, even if any statutes of limitations have run out.”
While this certainly has a wider reach than just the fashion industry, the bill was backed by the Model Alliance, an organization that seeks to protect models from the predatory behaviors of the fashion industry. Over the last decade, many models have reported abuse during their time working, with no legal recourse at their disposal. "Some of the most high profile villains that the #metoo movement unmasked — like Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein — preyed on models; a uniquely vulnerable workforce due to the predatory labor structure that leaves young women and girls trapped in a cycle of debt and dependence,” Model Alliance Executive Director Sara Ziff said in a statement. “The Adult Survivors Act will hopefully provide a pathway to healing for individuals as well as necessary accountability for the industry at large.”
A Leaked Police Report Reveals Thousands of Detained Ugyhurs
According to BBC, a leaked Chinese police report shows photos of detainees and details an alleged shoot-to-kill policy for people who try to escape. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, tweeted, “Horrified by the Xinjiang Police Files, which spotlight China’s mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities.”
Fashion brands have been impacted by this crisis because of the large amount of cotton that comes from Xianjiang. In early May, scientists claimed that they found traces of Xianjiang cotton in garments from major brands like Puma and Adidas, despite promises to stop all use of it. Others have made these commitments, but have not gone so far as to call out the government.
In a statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group said, "In addition, every nation around the world — especially Muslim nations doing business with China — must unite to demand an end to the genocide of Uyghur Muslims. Never again must truly mean never again."