Code Violations at Pandora Production (Thailand)

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To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova and Ben Hensler
Date:December 18, 2019
Re:Code Violations at Pandora Production (Thailand)

We are sharing with you here a memorandum that the WRC sent last month to Pandora A/S, a company that has produced university logo jewelry, concerning the WRC’s investigation of violations of university codes of conduct at Pandora Production, a factory that the company owns in Bangkok, Thailand.

Pandora recently dropped its university licenses; however, it is important to note that the labor rights violations identified in our memorandum took place while Pandora was making university licensed product. We should also note that a substantial amount of university logo product made by Pandora, under its previous university licenses, is still being sold by retailers. For these reasons, the WRC is committed to seeking proper remedies for the abuses Pandora’s employees have suffered.

In July 2019, the WRC received a complaint from employees at Pandora’s Bangkok factory concerning longstanding and severe violations of freedom of association, including the unlawful mass terminations of 73 employees in February 2018 and of a further 19 employees in February 2019. In the case of both mass terminations, Thai labor authorities determined that Pandora’s dismissal of these workers was unlawful and a violation of employees’ freedom of association—their right to join a union and their legal protection as members of a union. 

Although the minimum remedy under university labor codes, in cases where workers have been terminated in violation of their associational rights, is reinstatement with back pay, Pandora, in this case, exploited weaknesses in the Thai legal system (weaknesses that have long been criticized by international observers) to avoid reinstating any of the 92 workers it illegally fired. Instead, the company papered over its legal problems by paying a meager amount of compensation to workers.

When protections for workers under national laws fail to vindicate the rights protected by university labor standards, the obligation of licensees is to comply with the higher university standard. 

Unfortunately, Pandora’s response to the WRC’s reminding the company of this obligation has been to state that, since Pandora is no longer a university licensee, it considers the matter closed. Pandora has made clear that it has no intention of taking action to correct the violations of university codes of conduct that the WRC has found it committed while it was a licensee. 

Since Pandora’s university licenses have not been renewed, the best avenue for persuading Pandora to reverse course is the company’s relationship with non-university licensors, including Disney. The WRC will engage with Disney and other Pandora business partners to seek remedies for the violations Pandora committed while making university logo product. We will advise university affiliates of further developments. 

As always, please let us know if you have any further questions or concerns regarding this matter.