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Worker Protest During State of Emergency Orchestrated by Employer 

On April 21, 2020, around 2000 workers of “Gloria” sewing factory showed up to work in defiance of state of emergency restrictions. The police officers were calling on workers to leave the factory and go home, as textile industry remained closed due to the state of emergency decisions.

Workers refused stopping work, hundreds of female workers were outside the factory voicing their demand to allow them work, as they did not received compulsory leave payments, many of the labor force was not eligible for the social benefit support provided by the government. Returning home for them would mean being left without money. The workers would often emphasize that they came to work “upon their own will”, as they saw no other solution.

Although the workers were brought to “Gloria” by buses owned by the company it, owner of “Gloria” Bagrat Darbinyan staged an address to the workers that he did not allow them to work and they should all stop and go home.

The police detained a few of the protesters, some were fined (100.000 AMD and higher) for breaking the lockdown order. Nevertheless, “Gloria” workers did not go home and remained at work until evening, while police left the scene ordering them not to show up the next day.

Epress.am talked to a few of the workers, who agreed to anonymously disclose that they protested by the demand of “Gloria’s” director.

The day before, Darbinyan summoned the workers to a secret meeting and instructed them to come to work on the 21st and demand resumption of the factory’s work as the state is not providing any support to the laborers, and they want to go back to work.

During the forced leave, Darbinyan did not pay the workers (although he is obliged to pay at least 2/3 of their wages according to the Labor Code), instead he fired part of the labor force with a promise to hire them back after the quarantine. He also threatened at the meeting that if workers do not show up to work on April 21st, he would fire all of them. He also told them not to disclose all of this.

The workers say that the do not know what will happen. The factory did not operate on April 22. Many of them were fined because of the protest and do not know how they will pay the fines. According to them, “Gloria” owner Bagrat Darbinyan was also fined. He has not given any new instructions to show up to work.