Former employees at a clothing company in Thailand are suing Tesco for alleged negligence and unfair treatment.

One of the claimants is a seven-year-old girl, who was raped in the factory compound while her mother worked late making F&F clothes.

VK Garment Factory (VKG) in Mae Sot is currently facing criminal charges for fraud, illegally using employees’ bank cards, withholding their immigration documents, and forcing them to work overtime.

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Between 2017 and 2020, the workers produced F&F jeans for Tesco’s Thai branch.

In December, it was revealed the factory was forcing Burmese workers to work 99-hour weeks for illegally low pay in deplorable conditions.

Tesco responded by saying it was not involved in the factory’s day-to-day operations and would have ended its relationship with the supplier “immediately” if it had discovered any problems.

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Oliver Holland, a partner at Leigh Day, which is representing the workers in the UK, welcomed the new police investigation in Thailand.

He told The Guardian: “However, our clients experienced further serious labour abuses whilst working at the factory including allegations of forced labour.

“We hope that the further investigations by the Thai police will reveal these further abuses in a timely manner so that our clients can get justice.”

Workers claimed the factory paid them in cash but opened bank accounts for them to create a false trail that made them appear to be paid the minimum wage.

136 Burmese workers were fired from the factory in August 2020.

They claim this was because they demanded the minimum wage.

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Tesco said: “We understand the Thai labour court has awarded compensation to those involved, and we would continue to urge the supplier to reimburse employees for any wages they are owed.”

SourceRetail Gazette

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