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Next storefront London. Credit: Pete Lynes

Tell Next to recognise and engage with its workers' union!

Update: on 30 March Next plc stated that they will recognise the union as representative of its workers. However the victory is not yet secured, as the union is waiting for its first meeting with factory management to take place, at which point recognition of collective bargaining status will be confirmed.

Following a successful action to win back unpaid bonuses, workers at a Next factory in Sri Lanka formed a new branch of the FTZ&GSEU trade union. That was three months ago.  Yet despite half of the factory workforce becoming members, Next has still not recognised or engaged directly with the trade union.

According to Sri Lankan labour laws, as an employer Next must accept the trade union as representative of workers and engage in negotiations with them.

In response to demands from War on Want and Labour Behind the Label, Next sent us a letter indicating some progress BUT crucially has not confirmed whether it will recognise the trade union or engage with it directly!  

Next said that while it is “favourable to freedom of association… ” it wants to “assess whether union involvement at Next Manufacturing Ltd is generally desired by our employees and is in the best interests of the workforce”.  

But workers have already made their desires on this known – by freely choosing to form a trade union of their choice.  

Next’s failure to recognise the union is a flagrant display of disrespect for its workers, the trade union body – and goes against Next’s own published Principles on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.

Next is using classic union-busting tactics, hoping that workers will give up their struggle for their legal right to a seat at the negotiating table. 

But workers will not give up and neither will we! 

Please join with us and Sri Lankan garment workers in demanding that: Next provide a public statement by 19 March 2021, stating that it will recognise the FTZ&GSEU trade union at its Sri Lankan factory, and that it will begin direct meetings with the union before the end of March 2021.

Support garment workers on the frontline struggle for living wages and decent work. Act now and tell Next to respect its workers’ union!


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