KARACHI: The recent issue between the apparel brand Khaadi and its employees is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as many other local and international brands treat their employees similarly or worse.

This was said by secretary general of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) while addressing a press conference held to speak about an agreement of understanding signed between Khaadi and the NTUF.

The union representative said that a copy of the signed agreement would be submitted to the National Industrial Relations Commission (NIRC) on July 7.

“The agreement was signed on the evening of June 5,” NTUF’s Nasir Mansoor said. “For the past two months the two organisations were in disagreement over the treatment meted out to the employees working at Khaadi.”

A draft of the agreement was prepared after the lack of coverage of protests by Khaadi employees in the national media was followed by outrage on social media.

The activists and bloggers criticised the lack of coverage of the issue in the mainstream media and the issue ended up getting coverage on the websites of a few news outlets.

According to the agreement, a copy of which was provided by the NTUF at the press conference, Khaadi agreed to provide appointment letters to employees.

Employees at all production units of Khaadi will be registered with the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) and the Sindh Social Security as per law.

Khaadi agreed that it would follow and implement, where needed, national laws on labour.

Employment of 125 workers, who have already applied for job security at the NIRC, would be maintained and the employees would not be harassed.

According to the agreement, Khaadi stated that it “seconds the implementation of the minimum wage of Rs15,000” as per laws set by the government.

The employees at all units will be given a months’ salary in advance as a bonus before Eid.

On this point, another representative of the NTUF accompanying Mr Mansoor, Rafiq Baloch added that the “brand has already raised the salaries of operators by Rs2,000, which is a good sign.”

The brand also clarified that it had no reservation with 32 workers who had taken their final dues to work with any other vendor.

Health and safety at all units will be improved as per law.

Workers will ensure that they fulfil their daily production targets and maintain discipline.

The brand also clarified in the agreement that “Khaadi discourages all kinds of gender-based discrimination against women”.

Mr Mansoor added the “issue between Khaadi and its employees is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many national and international companies that don’t pay their employees even the minimum wage. International brands such as H&M, Zara and Mango have employees with similar stories to tell. We feel that the agreement with Khaadi is a step in the right direction”.

He added that “we now await the implementation of the said agreement”.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2017

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