The Pakistani retail giant Khaadi has agreed with a workers trade union to improve working conditions for its factory workers after protests were held last week in Lahore and Karachi, resulting in a call on social media for a boycott of Khaadi products.
32 workers from a Khaadi factory were fired after demanding fairer wages and better working conditions. In videos shared across social media the workers and activists can be seen protesting the unfair conditions under which they had to work and for being fired from their jobs without warning.
A female worker seen speaking in a video during the protest said, “At home when the kids were ill I couldn’t get a day off. When I was ill myself I still couldn’t get time off. I had an accident and worked for full 8 hours and they still didn’t give me time off from work. I’ve been working for the Khaadi factory for 2 years and this is what always happens. I’m a temporary worker, they said after 3 months of work we’ll give you a permanent contract but they never did. We are raising our voices to demand our rights”.
Another worker explained in the video that they were being paid less than the minimum wage which is currently set by the government at 14, 000 Rupees: “To this date we haven’t been given permanent contracts. Even when we try to book holidays they won’t grant them. We’re not allowed to take bathroom breaks, we work 8 hours a day in extreme heat. Our salaries are 13, 000 Rupees per month. We just want our legal rights”.
The hashtag #BoycottKhaadi went viral in Pakistan as people expressed their outrage at the mistreatment of labourers by the up-market brand which also has 5 stores across the UK.
The People’s Solidarity Forum, who were present at the protests, wrote on their Facebook page “Consumers pay thousands of rupees for a piece of clothing produced in exploitative conditions by workers forced to the point of attempting suicide. Textile firms like Khaadi make millions in sales around the time of Eid, we call on people to #BoycottKhaadi until this company adopts ethical practices and stops exploiting its workers.”
In its initial response the retailer denied all allegations, saying they were rumours and instead claimed “We therefore categorically confirm that Khaadi has not terminated 32 of its employees.”
However on Tuesday it emerged Khaadi came to an agreement with the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) to improve its implementation of labour laws in all Khaadi production units.
According to a press release by the trade union, Khaadi will meet the state-mandated minimum wage and issue employment letters to all its workers.
People’s Solidarity Forum picketed the MM Alam Khaadi store to demand reinstatement of 32 workers who Khaadi fired right before Ramadan because they demanded fair wages. The workers at Khaadi work 12 hours a day for less than 14k rupees a month.
Consumers pay thousands of rupees for a piece of clothing produced in expoitative conditions by workers forced to the point of attempting suicide. Textile firms like Khaadi make millions in sales around the time of Eid, we call on people to #BoycottKhaadi until this company adopts ethical practices and stops exploiting its workers.