December 31, 2006
In December 2003, MSN, together with the Canadian Labour Congress and the Independent Federation of Honduran Workers (FITH), filed a formal complaint with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) concerning the unjust firings of workers suspected of union sympathies at Gildan Activewear's El Progreso factory in Honduras. The complaint alleged that there was a pattern of violations of freedom of association at the factory. On January 6, the same parties filed a complaint with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). Investigations by both the FLA and WRC confirmed MSN's allegations of violations of worker rights at the factory.
When Gildan subsequently announced it was closing the El Progreso factory in the midst of the complaints process, the FLA put the company's membership under review and the WRC reported that Gildan's decision was likely motivated by anti-union animus and in order to avoid taking corrective action.
Grassroots campaigns targeting Gildan Activewear in Canada and the United States succeeded in pressuring Gildan to enter into an agreement with MSN and the WRC to provide first-hire preference to all former El Progreso workers, including union supporters, at its other sewing facilities in Honduras. It also agreed to cooperate with verification of compliance with the agreement by the Honduran Independent Monitoring Team (EMIH).
In September 2006, MSN, the WRC and EMIH released a joint final report showing that while Gildan hadn't fully complied with the agreement, it did make serious efforts to do so in later months of the process.
In December 2006, the FLA published its final report on the case, based on a verification audit conducted by the Guatemalan Commission for the Verification of Codes of Conduct (COVERCO). That report states that Gildan "has remediated most of the noncompliance issues" arising from the 2003 complaint in its remaining factories, but still needs to address some outstanding issues and "provide better and more effective trainings, particularly on freedom of association."
While problems remain in Gildan's offshore factories, MSN has found that Gildan is now more willing to discuss problems when they are brought to its attention and to engage with MSN and local labour rights groups on how to address those problems.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Gildan campaign and helped to make this change possible. MSN is not requesting any follow-up action at this time.