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Workers at Georgie & Lou are laid off without wages and severances.

When 78 workers at Georgie & Lou, most of whom are older women returned to work on September 8, 2015, after having been suspended without being paid, they were not allowed to enter the factory and instead were met by an announcement stating that “presently this establishment is run by Sanook Garment Ltd.”
 
Georgie & Lou located in Sankamphang, Chiang Mai, Thailand, has preceded goods for Pure & Co under brands: Neon Buddha and Pure Handknit, since 2006 for Mr. Sebastien Sirois, a Canadian businessman who is the real owner of Georgie & Lou Ltd. and Pure & Co Ltd and the brands Neon Buddha and Pure Handknit. Over the recent year, Mr. Sebastien Sirois and Georgie & Lou have consistently allegedly violated worker’s rights, Thai law and international labor standards. The most recent example is the laying off workers who worked at Georgie & Lou factory in Chiang Mai, Thailand without paying any severance in September 2015, and the opening of Sanook Garment in Mae Sot, Tak, Thailand, where the entire work force is paid subminimum wages.
 
In August 2013, Georgie & Lou Ltd allegedly violated conditions of employment by attempting to change workers’ employment contracts. In response, the workers associated to negotiate and formed a union in October 2013.  Unfortunately, Georgie & Lou did not respect the right of workers to freedom of association, and proceeded by wrongfully dismissing worker leaders on October 16, 2013 after submitting the demands to company and denying payment of severances and damage pay for unfair dismissals and wrongfully dismissing union committee members on January 6 and 7, 2014 by failing to comply with an order of the Labor Relations Committee to deny reinstating union committee member and payment damage pay for unfair dismissals and discriminating against union members by not providing annual bonus to them in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the wage of monthly salaried workers at Georgie & Lou is lower than the legal minimum wage and the company has allegedly refused to pay back money from Appreciation Fund to workers. These issues, the workers complained with Chiang Mai Provincial the Department of Labor Protection and Welfare, a Labor Relations Committee and Labor Court. The cases of payment of severances and damage pay for unfair dismissals, salary of monthly workers, bonuses, and Appreciation fund are appealed by Georgie & Lou. These cases are currently being considered by the Supreme Court. 
 
In June 2015, Georgie & Lou announced to close some production lines temporarily under Labor Protection Act section 75, providing the reason that there was less order from buyers. 78 workers were affected by this order. Worse than that, Georgie & Lou allegedly refused to pay the wages to these 78 workers in period of suspension under the section 75. After the expiry of the suspension using the section 75, on September 8, 2015, the workers returned to the factory to work as usual, but they found an announcement stating that “presently this establishment is run by Sanook Garment Ltd.” which was dated September 7, 2015.
 
The workers believe the claim of George & Lou that it has received less order from the buyers is not true, because they found that the board of director of Georgie & Lou who is representing Mr. Sebastien Sirois registered a new company is named “Sanook Garment Ltd.” on June 3, 2015. This company produces goods for Pure & Co Ltd, is located in Mae Sot district, Tak province.  A few days later, a general manager of Georgie & Lou registered a new company is named “Narak Holding Ltd.”, which was registered on June 5, 2015. This company uses the same address of Georgie & Lou in Sankampeng district, Chiang Mai province. 
 
In addition, there was suspicious behavior to remove the property of Georgie & Lou Ltd. to Narak Holding Ltd. The union found that Georgie & Lou Ltd. sold land which is located of the factory to Narak Holding Ltd. on July 14, 2015 and the company managed by only one person which is Mrs. Thanwarat Intawong , a general manager of Georgie & Lou and a board of director of Narak Holding Ltd who is signatory to the both seller and buyer. The sale of land of Georgie & Lou has no a transparent and intended to avoid paying the debts to the workers and this action of Georgie & Lou might violate Thai law. So the workers filed a case to the court asking to call involved persons to inquire. This case is currently being considered to have an order of Supreme Court. 
 
Mr. Sebastien Sirois and Pure & Co Ltd. always tell the consumers and the public that they do business with ethics and moral, but in reality in the two years since the workers formed their union, Mr. Sebastien Sirois has allegedly violated labor rights and failed to comply with Thailand Labor Law and International Labor Standard. Most recently by cheating workers out of their wages and severance totaling 10,954,486.40 Thai Baht or 304,291.29 USD. (1$=36 baht).
 
Here is the list of debts that Mr. Sebastien Sirois and Pure & Co Ltd. owes the workers:
  1. Severance pay and severance pay in lieu of advance notice to the 51 workers: 3,924,114.75  Thai Baht
  2. Money from the Appreciation Fund to the 59 workers: 930,955.77 Thai Baht
  3. The wages from June 8 to September 7, 2015 to the 37 workers: 1,008,973Thai Bath
  4. The wages payable for the 43 monthly salaried workers that received lower than minimum wage: 333,850 Thai Baht. 
  5. Annual bonus in 2013to the 46 workers: 425,896.88 Thai Baht   and in 2014  to the 41 workers: 334,280 Thai Baht
  6. Damage pay of unfair practices to the 10 worker leaders: 460,260 Thai Baht and the 4 dismissed union committee members: 848,000 Thai Baht   
  7. Damage pay of unfair dismissal to the 37 workers who were laid off: 2,644,700 Thai Bath
  8. Remaining annual holidays to the 27 workers: 43,456 Thai Baht.
 
 

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