By Udara Soysa –
When two populations, two groups of people having unequal perspectives, come into continuous contact with one another, certain feelings of familiarity can develop over-period of time. Customers’ perspective and staffers’ perspectives globally had interesting interactions in the modern commercial landscapes yet this relationship is far from peaceful — a times deadly violent as one seen in the brawl at House of Fashions (HoF).
As per the attorney representing the victim, the victim client came to HoF with his wife and his vehicle was blocked at the car park. Meanwhile, his wife, who later became a victim in this scenario, informed the store manager several times to make an announcement to move the blocking cars. The store manager failed to make any initial announcements but about 15-20 minutes the management made one announcement with the wrong vehicle number. Meanwhile, the frustrated husband who came to check on his wife got into a heated argument with the store manager. When the store manager came close to the customer, the victim customer pushed the store manager. This was the start of the violent attack. Thereafter, a dozen of HoF staff came down with iron rods and started assaulting the customer. Customer tried to fight back but the group of men pinned him down to the floor and kept on brutally attacking his head and body as shown in the videos taken by a third party. Wife of the customer went to save her husband and the HoF staff brutally attacked her while verbally abusing and showing her sexual signs. The wife sustained a severe injury to her eye.
The attorney representing the victim customer further stated when the wife tried to call the police, the HOF staff while beating the man up, boasted saying the Sri Lanka police cannot even touch them, do what you can. Thereafter, the victims went and lodged a complaint at the Bambalapitiya police station. Two men who mainly attacked were taken to the police station. Police recorded statements from the customer and his wife.
“Our boss knows Tiran Alles and we can get away with anything at police level” according to a manager of who has boasted to fellow employees as per sources.
Meanwhile, there are some shocking revelations on social media by former senior employees of House Of Fashions.
Hashal Trikawala, who was a former head of division at House of Fashion writes that the working conditions at HOF are as bad as it can get. “I have never seen floor workers being used and abused to such an extent at work by the management and the owners. To clarify, HoF owners operate the store as a prison. Once you get inside the doors they are locked for the employees until your shift finishes or until the chairman instruct to open the doors again. Once you are inside the store, you are not allowed to go out. Most of the employees are been given ruthless hours to work and everything that an employee does is controlled by the owners completely with in the store. The owners have made a persona for themselves where the employees have to stand up and treat them as royalty whenever the owners comes inside the store. The time I was there I have seen the worst of how a company can treat its employees. Most of the floor workers have to work 7 days of the week most of the time with out any additional payments or perks.” he wrote on his facebook.
He added that “the only reason why HOF service is bad is because all of the workers are over worked by the owners and treated as animals. All of them are just one sniff away from total breakdown at all times.”
Senior journalist from Colombo Munza Mushtaq writes that “House of Fashion staff were never the nicest. But haven’t been there in years. So, no idea if it’s the same. But going by the video looks like it has gone from bad to worse.”
Meanwhile, Nadeesh De Silva, former head of marketing at House of Fashions writes on his social media that “It is a prison. Had to work 30 days on the trot 9am to 9pm without a single leave during 2021 Aurudu Season. Left immediately after the season. Was there for just 2 months. Its a hell ”
Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make them mad is a well known adage. Ever since House of Fashions entered a culture of racism and extreme profit orientation, the shocking waves have sent employees reeling with instability. At first it was a total shock because many customers of HoF who never expected the store to fall into such pathetic realms. Errors of senior management over a decade to ensure no action was taken against errant employment practices ensured this sad reality which hid behind a veil of political protection. Reality finally dawned upon the so called senior management of House of Lords now since the dirty deeds are out in public. Will they be able to salvage this once thriving brand? Only time will tell indeed.
*Udara Soysa is a Sri Lankan American lawyer who can be reached at email@example.com