WRC Factory Investigation

Pandora Production Co., Ltd.

Factory: Pandora Production Co., Ltd.

Key Buyers: Disney

Year: 2019

Case Summary

Pandora Production Co., Ltd., (Thailand) (“Pandora”) is a Danish-owned jewelry factory in Bangkok, Thailand, which currently employs more than 7,000 workers. Until mid-2019, Pandora was a producer of university logo jewelry and, as a result, subject to university codes of conduct. Pandora’s parent company, Pandora A/S, currently holds licenses to produce jewelry from the Walt Disney Company, which maintains its own labor code of conduct, as well as other major licensors.

In early 2018, workers at Pandora began organizing a union at the factory. The company’s response was to violate workers’ freedom of association rights by retaliating against employees who were leaders and activists in this effort—firing en masse 73 of the plant’s workers, the majority of whom were members of the union’s executive committee or an associated union subcommittee.

Despite this severe repression of their freedom of association rights, workers at Pandora persisted in their union organizing efforts, and, by the beginning of 2019, had negotiated an initial collective bargaining agreement with the company. However, in February 2019, the company conducted another mass termination in which 17 more union members were unlawfully discharged. Thai labor authorities determined that Pandora’s dismissals of these workers were unlawful and violated employees’ freedom of association. 

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 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 codes of conduct, the obligation of licensees is to comply with the higher university standard. Unfortunately, Pandora’s response to the WRC 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 correcting the violations of university codes 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 products.

Read More: