Three Guangdong factory workers and labour rights activists staged a demonstration outside the Tommy Hilfiger flagship store in Tsim Sha Tsui on Wednesday, asking the American clothes brand to pay their overdue severance after one of its contractors in Guangdong closed down.

The workers said their Hong Kong bosses disappeared after the sudden closure of Huizhou SKS Manufacturing Company Limited in March this year. The trio, on behalf of about 100 workers, demanded Tommy Hilfiger, which was 80 percent of the factory’s businesses, to pay their severance, according to the labour rights NGO Globalisation Monitor.

Workers and labour rights activists protest in front of Tommy Hilfiger shop in TST. Photo: Globalisation Monitor.

“The workers made clothes for Tommy Hilfiger and handbags, mainly handbags,” May Wong, director of Globalisation Monitor, told HKFP. “Some of the workers have been with the factory for two decades,” she added.

The protesters demanded Tommy Hilfiger to pay their severance. Photo: Globalisation Monitor.

Globalisation Monitor and two other labour rights NGOs, Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour and Asian TNC Monitoring Network, are helping the workers.

The workers and their supporters, about a dozen people in total, protested in front of the Tommy Hilfiger shop in Mira Mall on Nathan Road.

Security guards at the mall ask protesters to leave. Photo: Globalisation Monitor.

Wong said protesters were first asked to leave by mall security guards, but later a manager at Tommy Hilfiger, Den Yip, came out to talk to them.

“He asked us not to affect their business. He told us he will forward our petition to people in the company and asked us to give him some time,” Wong said. The protesters left after handing a letter to Yip.

A manager at Tommy Hilfiger receives a petition from protesters. Photo: Globalisation Monitor.

Wong said the workers originally came to Hong Kong to look for their bosses, Kevin Cheung and Kevin Wong. “We took the workers to SKS’ Hong Kong office, but we were told the company was sold, even the signboard was gone,” Wong said.

Earlier this year, a Huizhou court ruled in favour of the workers, asking the owners to pay 103 workers RMB3.19 million (HK$3.89 million) in severance. But Cheung and Wong disappeared, leaving behind only RMB500,000 (HK$609,700) and some old equipment, Globalisation Monitor said in a press release.

The workers are unlikely to get help from Hong Kong’s Labour Department because the dispute happened in mainland China, Wong said.

HKFP has reached out to Tommy Hilfiger for comment.

Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.