Gildan Activewear is a vertically integrated Canadian-based marketer and manufacturer of basic apparel including t-shirts, socks and underwear. The company first began production in 1984, and is currently the number one global manufacturer of blank Tshirts.
Unlike many apparel manufacturers, most of Gildan's products are made in its wholly owned facilities, where they employ approximately 15,000 workers. Gildan is one of the few large apparel companies whose supply chain is limited to the Americas - primarily in Honduras, Nicaragura, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Since 2001, MSN and its southern partners have researched working conditions in Gildan factories and launched campaigns to improve conditions where violations were found.
When Gildan Activewear announced the closure of two of its factories in the State of Coahuila in northern Mexico last March, workers had reason to be worried. But after a series of discussions with MSN and the local labour rights organization SEDEPAC, Gildan has set a precedent for workers who are used to being denied even their legal entitlements.
In December 2003, MSN, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Independent Federation of Honduran Workers (EMIH) filed a formal complaint with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) concerning the unjust firings of workers at a Gildan factory in Honduras. The next month, the same parties filed a complaint with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).
When Gildan subsequently announced it was closing the Honduran factory in the midst of the complaints process, grassroots campaigns targeting Gildan Activewear in Canada and the United States succeeded in pressuring Gildan to agree to a corrective action plan.
Campaigning against Gildan proceeded until 2006, when 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. MSN has since suspended its Gildan campaign.