Hundreds of Chinese workers at Uniqlo supplier go on strike over firings

A Uniqlo store in Tokyo on April 9, 2015. The Japanese fashion giant is operated by Fast Retailing.
A Uniqlo store in Tokyo on April 9, 2015. The Japanese fashion giant is operated by Fast Retailing. AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hundreds of factory workers at a Chinese supplier to Fast Retailing Co. are striking over the dismissal of some of the employees, forcing production to shut down, a labour rights group said.

All of the about 900 workers at Artigas Clothing & Leatherwear Co. in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen joined the strike after a number of them started it on June 8, Ms Alexandra Chan, project officer of Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), said in a telephone interview.

The supplier has been transferring equipment out of the factory and fired older workers as it plans to relocate the facility, Ms Chan said, citing the workers. About 500 employees have been camping overnight at the plant to prevent more production machines being moved out, she said.

Fast Retailing confirmed that there is a strike at Artigas which belongs to its manufacturing partner Lever Shirt Co., it said. The maker of Uniqlo casual wear has requested the management of Lever Shirt to reach a peaceful resolution with the workers, it said in an e-mailed statement.

Earlier this year, non-governmental organisation SACOM released a report that highlighted labour abuses at two other Fast Retailing's factories in China, Dongguan Tomwell Garment Co. and Pacific Textiles Ltd., prompting an investigation by Fast Retailing.

The Yamaguchi-based company, controlled by Japan's richest man Tadashi Yanai, pledged to improve working conditions and said it would work with outside groups to monitor work conditions at those factories.