Fashion brand ‘Missguided’ salary scandal: Pakistani factory workers have not been paid salaries for months

Hundreds of garment workers in Pakistan are starving after not receiving their salaries for more than four months. These workers were making clothing for collapsed fast fashion brand Missguided. Their effort helped them earn between £100 and £160 a month. However, lately, they have been awarded no salaries for their work. Suppliers claim that the company owes them millions of pounds for clothing already completed and shipped.

Bismillah Clothing Factory Workers share their experience

One such supplier, the Bismillah Clothing factory, situated in Faisalabad, has been exclusively making clothes for Missguided since 2017. Inside the Bismillah Clothing factory, mountains of boxes of Missguided clothing sit abandoned. The factory workers shared their heart-wrenching stories while speaking to a media outlet.

21-year-old Amna Rani, the sole earner for her extended family, said:

I have not received a salary since January and have been reduced to begging my neighbours for bread to feed my younger brothers and sisters. Now, no one is even giving us any loan to buy food. My landlord is asking us to pay or leave the house. How can I pay him without getting my salary? My father was admitted to the hospital and I don’t have a penny to pay for his hospital bills. Last week, after months of working without pay, I was fired along with hundreds of my co-workers when they were told by factory management that Missguided had not paid its invoices.

Another employee, Muhammad Irfan, said:

Many workers are suffering from severe depression after not receiving their salaries. We do not know what to do in this situation. Whether to commit suicide or become a thief. I can’t survive without getting our pay each month, but it has been more than four months. Missguided and the UK government should help us or the government should force the company to pay for the Bismillah factory.

Nadeem Siddique, the owner of the Bismillah Clothing factory claimed:

They never told me they were facing a financial crisis, Missguided kept us in the dark. In the past few months, we have shipped hundreds of thousands of pieces of clothing that they ordered and thousands more are stuck in our storerooms and port to be shipped. We have not got a single dollar for these clothes. We have no other option than to fire workers. The factory started supplying Missguided in 2017 and 2019, the company said it wanted to increase orders and asked the factory to expand and hire more workers, and produced exclusively for the brand.

He further shared:

Since 2019, we have been making 200,000 pieces for Missguided each month. Missguided owes me more than £2m in unpaid invoices. After they asked us to expand capacity, we hired another 300 workers, but now Missguided has left us alone amid threats from investors, vendors and workers. They even gave us an order in May that was supposed to be shipped in June.

Spry Sports Factory Workers share their experience

Hundreds of workers in the Spry Sports factory in the city of Sialkot, which was making about 200,000 pieces of clothing for Missguided every month, say they are also going hungry after receiving no pay for months.

40-year-old Rihana Naeem said:

My children have stopped going to school. They don’t have money to buy notebooks and books. We don’t have food. I have been unable to afford my kidney medication since my salary stopped being paid. For more than a month, I have been crying, begging and praying to get my salary. Only God knows how I am surviving, I have to beg for money from people.

Shams Ghulam, the owner of Spry Sports, said:

I keep asking Missguided for payment for worker salaries but have received no response. The western countries say that they are civilised and they care for workers and labour rights, but can you ask these companies, what should a supplier do to pay their workers? Is it my fault that I have not paid my workers? No. I have to pay investors, my partners and workers. The business started with a promise and trust but Missguided has broken both.

Clean Clothes Campaign stands up for factory workers

Teneo Financial Advisory, which has been appointed by Missguided to oversee its administration, declined to comment on the matter.

The Clean Clothes Campaign lead Meg Lewis said:

Missguided workers in Pakistan are facing wage theft and destitution while shareholder profits will be protected. Missguided, co-owner Alteri, and the appointed administrators must urgently take action to ensure that workers in Pakistan and elsewhere are paid their wages. We are seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of workers in Missguided’s supply chain who are facing a crisis. This again highlights the gross injustice that brands can impose discounts or refuse to pay for goods that have already been shipped. Likely, many of the workers’ stories will never be told, and the true scale of impact will remain hidden.

While several people are voicing their concerns against Missguided, the company hasn’t issued an official statement. Workers are appealing to authorities to actively participate in the cause and fight for justice. Only time will tell whether the factory workers receive justice or not.

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