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Thai factory used by Tesco faces criminal charges over treatment of workers

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Thai police have brought criminal charges against a clothing factory that was used by Tesco to make F&F clothes, over its treatment of workers.The Guardian revealed in December that Burmese workers who produced F&F jeans for Tesco in Thailand reported being made to work 99-hour weeks for illegally low pay in terrible conditions.VK Garment Factory (VKG) factory in Mae Sot faces criminal charges for fraud, using workers’ bank cards illegally, withholding their immigration documents and forcing them to work overtime.The charges mark a major change in tack by Thai police after the Guardian reported that officials initially took one day to conclude no laws were broken in what was dubbed a “sham” investigation.

Less than a month after that article was published, the police went back and interviewed 52 workers again and have now brought charges.Tesco faces a landmark lawsuit in the UK from 130 former VKG workers who are suing Tesco for negligence and unjust enrichment.

A seven-year-old girl, who was raped in the factory compound while her mother worked late making F&F clothes, is also a claimant.The workers made F&F jeans for the Thai branch of Tesco’s business between 2017 and 2020.

Tesco had no role in the day-to-day running of the factory and said it would have ended its relationship with the supplier “immediately” if it had identified issues of the kind at the time.Police said the second interviews established that VKG “had committed offences,” and that criminal charges were filed at the end of January.

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