Khaadi tailor skipped intermediate exams for work, now he’s been 'fired'

Published: June 2, 2017
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Usman Ali, was given two options by the Khaadi management: leave his job permanently for appearing for his exams or continue toiling in the factory to meet production target. PHOTO: Express

Usman Ali, was given two options by the Khaadi management: leave his job permanently for appearing for his exams or continue toiling in the factory to meet production target. PHOTO: Express

KARACHI: In April this year, Usman Ali, who had been working at arguably the country’s biggest clothing brand Khaadi for almost two years, requested the management to allow him a few leaves for his intermediate examinations. He was given two options: leave the job permanently to study for exams or continue toiling in the sweatshop to meet the production demand.

“I couldn’t lose my job as I have to support my family. Therefore, I decided to stay at work and abandon my studies,” Ali, who worked in Khaadi’s Karachi factory, said.

The 22-year-old was like many other college students in Karachi, juggling study and work in order to secure a stable future.

“I wanted to work hard to support my family and finish my studies to make a future for myself. I always believed that hard work pays off. But in my case, it didn’t,” said a visibly disheartened Ali, one of the victims of Khaadi’s alleged mass firing spree.

Khaadi workers protesting outside its factory where doors were shut on them because they had said the company was not allowing them to form a union. PHOTO: NTUF

Sindh Labour Federation rubbishes Khaadi statement denying inhumane working conditions

“Never did it cross my mind that I would be fired by the company I had sacrificed so much for just because I had asked its owners to give me my basic rights,” he said.

Ali joined Khaadi in December 2015 and was told upon hiring that he would become a permanent employee after three months. “They said I would be given all the perks after three months of probation. But they never gave me the perks and rights. Instead, they kept on increasing the production target and never thought about increasing the pay accordingly,” he said.

Ali, who used to stitch kurtas for the brand, says he started out with producing 80 units per day. The target set by the management kept increasing and became 400 units, an uphill task for him which he had to meet even if he had to stay back at work for hours.

Over the past few days, Khaadi has been in the spotlight over allegations of mistreating workers and exposing them to inhumane conditions.

No rest for Sindh’s labourers

Demonstrations were held in Karachi and Lahore by the company’s workers and activists who called upon the brand to acknowledge their wrongdoing. The brand allegedly fired 32 workers from its factory because they demanded the minimum wage.

The brand is also accused of mistreating workers, forcing them to work 14-hour shifts and not allowing them to take bathroom breaks.

Khaadi refutes the allegations as baseless rumours and initially said it had no intention of firing 32 workers. Later, the company changed its stance and said that the labourers were not the company’s employees; rather working on a third party contract. It changed its statement for the third time, saying the 32 workers had resigned willingly.

“We were forced to resign and offered money to leave the factory quietly. A manager threatened us that if we didn’t comply, he will get us picked up by the law-enforcement agencies,” claimed Ali.

The worker said he and his fellows would not let their struggle go in vain and hoped for a legal case to be filed against Khaadi with the help of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF).

“I have no other option now as I’ve already skipped my exams and lost my job too. A struggle is the only thing I am left with,” he added.

When asked about the legality of the issue, Nasir Mansoor of the NTUF, who has been assisting the workers in their legal fight, said it was written in the Sindh Terms of Employment (standing order) Act that labourers had 32 annual leaves at their disposal. “Usman was clearly denied of his right to take the leaves and carry on with his studies,” he said.

Workers’ group urges labour law reforms

“Khaadi has changed its statement thrice and are now pressuring the workers not to speak against the company. The mentioning of a third party contract and vendors proves that Khaadi is running its factory in violation of the set rules,” Nasir maintained.

“The Supreme Court’s landmark verdict in 2011 had asserted that employing workers through a third party contract is a scam which relieves the employers of its responsibilities.”

When contacted, a Khaadi spokesperson said  a company named TexMark was the right party to talk to about the matter as the employees were not hired by Khaadi. Imran Shiwani of TexMark, speaking to The Express Tribune, refuted the allegations leveled by the workers and said they had resigned willingly after receiving their due payments.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • citizen26
    Jun 2, 2017 - 8:42PM

    Take it to the court and don’t give up. I know it’s a long and difficult process but please just don’t give up. Khaadi is trapped and have no escape in the eyes of the law. Once you have a court judgement against Khaadi then you would notice they will want to settle this matter outside of court then. That’s how you win and fight big capitalist employers. Once again please don’t give up your fight in courtRecommend

  • Amir
    Jun 2, 2017 - 9:52PM

    looks like a tussel between the management and workers who wants to form a union. now unions in such organizations means a downhill. if we look in the pakistan textile industry almost none of them have unions, and they do the same, and notion of union discussion they remove the agitators.

    now these allegations of not sending to washroom etc could be concocted.

    sadly i have seen how even a prayer break could last almost an hour. in a manufacturing unit this is production loss due to inefficiency.

    so media should look at both sides. yes khaddi maybe paying minimum wages, etc agitators must be forming union to exert pressure.Recommend

  • Textile Employee
    Jun 2, 2017 - 10:52PM

    This is not the only case that happened as almost in every Textile Industry there is 3rd party hiring. Our Law and order organizations, law enforcement and legal affair departments are well known of these Tricks but no one say anything as its a settlement game. There are big ginets who are running their business and all of them have few registered permanent employees rest of them are same 3rd Party contract. This is not enough, they even don’t issue them company named ID cards. Employee under contract will not get any benefits allowed by govt instead they will be given self made rules based benefits, now it’s you luck whatever you got.
    You can’t make Labor Union as employeer have pocket union, and if you tried so then you people saw the result of above people.
    If you are technically strong as a tecnical person and found a better opportunity, you can’t leave the job without your current Boss permission and if you switched the job and your ex-boss became tp know, he will use his PR to stop you hiring at new place or will get you fire from job. They even use PRs of Owners if of same trade and circles. You are a slave now once you stuck in Textile Sector.

    All giant Customers like IKEA, Wallmart etc just care about their shipments, production and quality, if they make tules, its only about their own benefits or the supplier’s (in few cases) but not the employees who are working and running their industry. They have rules n benefits for them only in Audits and papers, in their flow charts hangged over all the pathway walls in the premises just to see and make yourself happy. Recommend

  • Muniza Memon
    Jun 3, 2017 - 2:56AM

    Texmark is also owned by Shamoon and is a cover up for the Khaadi to protect themselves from any labor related issues. Also Imran used to be the Finance Director of Khaadi until Apr and was moved to Texmark recently. This entire thing is a made up story of Khaadi. Shame on themRecommend

  • Mehmood Zaki
    Jun 3, 2017 - 3:41AM

    I have worked in khaadi retail and texmark belongs to shamoon sb who is the owner of khaadi. Recommend

  • citizen 27
    Jun 3, 2017 - 4:58AM

    Boycott Khadi this eid.
    Support the workersRecommend

  • qudrat ullah
    Jun 3, 2017 - 12:01PM

    private sector is the cruelest in every shape and everywhere. Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jun 3, 2017 - 12:13PM

    all media houses must ban there advertisement and any promotion..Recommend

  • Owais
    Jun 3, 2017 - 11:08PM

    Exploitation, bullying and harassment is a common thing in private sector. They dont give the basic rights of labours;. like minimum wages, leaves, overtime, leaves and compensation as per labour law. And the worst thing is there is not any functional labour laws enforcement agency in our country. If our govt cant do anything for its ppl we should take tht in our hands and fight with such companies. Recommend

  • umar
    Jun 4, 2017 - 2:03AM

    Everyone should boycott khadi, why just poor fruit vandors !Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jun 4, 2017 - 6:35AM

    @citizen 27:
    How can we support workers if we boycott Khaadi. Factory will be closed permanently and every worker will lose his job.Recommend

  • Hasan
    Aug 13, 2017 - 3:10AM

    ch. Alla Dad seems to be shamoon in disguise.
    bycott KHAADI. Tell ur families NOT TO BUY KHUDDI.Recommend

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