Recently mega fashion brand Khaadi came under the gun of allegations that stated that the brand had illegally dismissed 32 of its workers. It is difficult to pinpoint the stated reason for this dismissal. One news outlet claimed it was because the workers demanded higher wages, since they were being paid less than the minimum wage set by the state’s legislation, i.e. below Rs. 14,000 per month. Another stated that it was because the workers demanded better working conditions, since they were being made to “work like slaves.”
Hashtags started trending all over social media, videos of protests went viral, and cries to boycott the brand echoed all over the internet. While many Khaadi loyalists stopped to wonder what Khaadi’s side of the story was, unwilling to believe the worst about Pakistan’s favourite brand, others jumped on the social media trial and readily participated in the witch hunt.
The brand has finally issued a statement regarding the issue, which goes as follows:
“Khaadi has viewed with concern the discussion on social media in recent days emanating from certain false news that have been spread and which seek to damage our reputation. Initially our viewpoint was not to respond to what is nothing but malicious and libelous content, but we now feel we owe it to our patrons to clarify the matter. We therefore categorically confirm that Khaadi has NOT terminated 32 of its employees.”
In addition to these allegations, there was also a horrifying story going around which claimed that a female worker had committed suicide because she was fired, to which the brand responded: “Why anyone should spread this outright lie is beyond understanding, but this just goes to show how some vested interests will stop at nothing to premeditatedly plan to try and cause reputational harm to Khaadi, and we intend to get to the bottom of this conspiracy.”
The Khaadi spokesperson goes on to clarify the brand’s ethics and part in society, “Khaadi is a responsible corporate citizen. As a brand, we have endeavored to maintain and adhere to the highest standards in all operations, which also includes following best practices with regard to our biggest assets, our employees…Khaadi has always endeavored to promote our culture and heritage, and promote a positive image of Pakistan internationally, and will continue to do so.
Finally, we appeal to all to please do not share or spread news that is pure hearsay, or base your comments on speculative news, no matter shared by who, without fully knowing the facts yourself. We request this not only in the case of Khaadi, but as a general principle of social media engagement, as false rumours tend to escalate and can be quite damaging for others, whether it be brands or innocent people.”
While labour laws and work ethics in Pakistan should be questioned, it is inadvisable to jump onto any controversial bandwagon without any solid evidence. As the law states, any accused individual is “innocent until proven guilty” in a court of law. That said, this issue has resulted in the issue of labour laws in corporations as well as private households, which pay measly salaries to domestic workers; that is perhaps the issue that should be taken up and resolved on a national level. We do hope this issue will be resolved with a positive outcome.