"We categorically confirm that Khaadi has NOT terminated 32 of its employees."
Fake or false news is fast becoming a global problem threatening to forever taint reputations. Pakistani retail giant Khaadi, which has several stores in the UK, recently become a hot topic on the social media sphere.
This had little to do with its recently unveiled Eid collection and more with its ethical work practices.
Various blog posts have blamed Khaadi for laying off 32 employees just ahead of Ramadan.
Given the significance of Ramadan and how tough it can get for the working class to meet the demands of the religious month, these allegations on Khaadi for inhumane work practices have not gone down well with its customers.
Khaadi has also been accused of driving a female worker to attempt suicide after she was unfairly and heavily penalised for merely taking an unscheduled lunch break.
The news has since spread like wildfire and has led to protests being held against the retail brand across major cities of Karachi and Lahore.
Justice for #Khaadi workers who were fired in violation of labour laws. #ntuf @zehra1akhan pic.twitter.com/Cr7eHdQlMF
— Nida Kirmani (@nidkirm) May 25, 2017
Customers online have started a movement – #BoycottKhaadi – urging people to stop purchasing from the brand for the upcoming Eid festivities.
However, in a latest press statement, Khaadi’s management has denied all accusations terming the news to be fake and malicious:
“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,” the statement reads.
“Another malicious story being spread and linked to the above is of the apparent attempted suicide of a young female worker.
“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.”
“Khaadi is a responsible corporate citizen. As a brand, we have endeavoured 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.
“Our products are sourced through an array of third party suppliers. Khaadi has always endeavoured to promote our culture and heritage, and promote a positive image of Pakistan internationally, and will continue to do so,” the statement concludes.
Despite Khaadi officially denying the allegations, workers claiming to have worked for Khaadi maintain that they have been unfairly terminated with National Trade Union documents highlighting a number of complaints filed against the company.
These range from lack of benefits and holidays to disappointing working conditions.
Working condition in #khaadi. The managment of #khaadi bribe one female active member of union to withdraw from the case and offer her 500k pic.twitter.com/27Rmj7lTfD
— Zehra (@zehra1akhan) May 27, 2017
According to Dawn, Deputy General Secretary of the National Trade Union, Nasir Mansoor, has confirmed that there were in fact complains from the workers, and that a counsel representing Khaadi had assured that none of the employees would be terminated.
However on 22nd May 2017, they were refused entry into the factory.
Whether this is another case of fake news deepening an unwanted controversy or not, one will only find out as the story develops.