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THAILAND: Lingerie workers rally at US embassy

Bangkok Post
October 8th, 2006

Around 800 Thai lingerie workers waved bras and placards to defy martial law and demonstrate in front of the US embassy on Sunday, demanding the Americans investigate the closure of an underwear factory.

The workers, laid off by Gina Form Bra, a foreign company which makes lingerie for US apparel giants such as Victoria's Secret, Calvin Klein and Gap, held their demonstration despite the post-coup Thai government's ban on rallies.

Somsak Praiyoowong, adviser for the Gina Relation Worker Union, said around 80 police were present at the rally, but said it went ahead peacefully.

"We are afraid but we make it clear to police that we are not gathering for politics, we have a problem," he told the AFP news agency. "Our workers are suffering so fear is no big deal."

Gina Form Bra is due to close by the end of October after company officials said they could no longer afford costs in Thailand and were moving operations to China.

Somsak said they had submitted a letter to a US embassy labour representative asking for help in negotiations with the company, which is owned by Hong Kong's Clover Group.

"We want them to show information they really cannot afford the cost in Thailand," Somsak said Sunday, adding that if the factory had to close, compensation should be paid to the workers.

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