November 29, 2006
Christopher C. Fox
Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility
1000 East Hanes Mill Road
Winston Salem, NC 27105
RE: Monclova, Mexico
Dear Mr. Fox:
Thank you for your letter of November 28. From your response, it seems clear that your company has no intention of providing workers at the Monclova International factory any compensation, training, or assistance with job searches beyond what you are legally required to provide. Nor does it appear that you have any intention of entering into a serious dialogue with the workers and/or community that will be seriously affected by the closing of Monclova International as proposed in our November 21 correspondence. (See attached proposal.).
Please note that we, and the partner organizations we work with in Mexico, the US and Europe, will be monitoring very closely to ensure that all legal obligations are fully met. In our experience, foreign investors in Mexico seldom if ever fully comply with their legal obligations to their employees in the event of factory closures, and too often the Mexican authorities turn a blind eye to investors’ failure to provide legal severance pay or other legally required benefits. We therefore will be watching closely to see if your company is an exception to the rule.
Please note that actions that have allegedly been taken by your local management, such as pressuring workers to sign letters attesting to their good health as a precondition to receiving their severance pay, are totally illegal in Mexico and will, if confirmed, be viewed by responsible companies with whom Hanesbrands has a business relationship, ethical investors and consumers as serious abuses of the workers’ rights.
I can assure you that those companies, investors and consumers would also find it hard to believe that your company was unwilling to ensure that workers receive a professional assessment of their health in order that they can receive the compensation they are legally entitled to for any work related illnesses, injuries or disabilities. Your glowing comments about ergonomic improvements and health and safety accident reductions not withstanding, you – I’m sure – are well aware of long-standing and unresolved complaints of serious occupational health and safety related injuries suffered by workers at both Confecciones de Monclova (now closed) and Monclova International.
Nor does it appear that your company is willing to ensure that outstanding legal cases before the Local Conciliation and Arbitration Board are settled in a fair and timely manner, or that workers in the sleeve production area are not cheated out of their proper severance pay, merely because local management raised their production quotas in the final months before the factory closure. Again refer to our letter and outline of proposals for action, to which we had hoped Hanesbrands would seriously respond.
We are pleased you are exploring possibilities for ensuring that the existing child-care center remains open. However, the proposal outlined in our correspondence was that Hanesbrands DONATE the existing space to the Monclova municipality and ENSURE that IMSS continue to operate the center, as a donation TO THE COMMUNITY. This is very different than Hanesbrands locating an appropriate buyer for the facility.
Like you, MSN and the groups with whom we work, would of course be very pleased if the factory becomes productive again soon. We read with interest your mention of a potential buyer and hope – as you suggest – that if this comes to pass “opportunities will certainly arise for many of those affected by our departure.” We would hope that part of the negotiation of sale would be a commitment on the part of any buyer to provide “first hire preference” to former Hanesbrands workers who have lost employment as a result of the last two closures (Confecciones de Monclova and now Monclova International).
You did not respond in your letter to our proposal that Hanesbrands make transparent its future plans for other facilities in the state of Coahuila and in Mexico generally. Obviously Hanesbrands is implementing a major restructuring in its production supply chain. Surely the communities in which you have profited over many years deserve to be transparently informed about and consulted with as you implement changes that will have dramatic impact on them.
Obviously we did not find your letter a helpful response to our attempt to initiate a dialogue and process for “a responsible transition.” In fact, quite the opposite: I was shocked at your response. Most telling is your company’s assertion that the laid-off workers should be expected to pay for their own retraining and job searches “while supporting their families in the transition” out of the severance pay they receive from your company. This statement alone will put to rest any illusions that ethical investors, buyers and consumers might have that Hanesbrands is a socially responsible company.
I look forward to receiving any information from your company that might convince us that we are mistaken about your apparent disregard for the rights and well being of the Monclova workers.
Lynda Yanz, Coordinator
Maquila Solidarity Network
Betty Robles, SEDEPAC
Scott Nova, Workers Rights Consortium (WRC)
David Schilling, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Ben Davis, AFL-CIO Solidarity Center