In February 2011, the Honduran Women's Collective (CODEMUH) filed a complaint with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) alleging that 57 workers at Honduran factories owned by Canadian t-shirt manufacturer Gildan Activewear had suffered debilitating injures due to long work shifts, the intense pace of production and high production targets.
Shortly after a new union was formed last September in Haiti's growing apparel manufacturing sector, six of the seven workers who serve on the union's executive committee were fired or forced to resign by the factories where they worked. But we're pleased to report that thanks to concerted efforts by Haitian and international labour rights groups, all but one of the workers have now been reinstated and are back at work.
The apparel industry was widely hailed in some circles as a vital economic opportunity for Haiti, particularly after the devastating earthquake which hit the country in January 2010. Although the creation of approximately 26,000 jobs in the country is certainly welcome, the full benefits of those jobs will only be felt if the workers have access to their legal rights, including the right to form unions and bargain collectively, and are paid a living wage.
In October 2006, MSN was contacted by our colleagues at SEDEPAC, a member of the Espacio based in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, concerning the imminent closure of a Hanesbrands factory in the city of Monclova. MSN and SEDEPAC worked to ensure that workers received full severance and health benefits, and are tracking the company’s plans for other factories in Mexico.
What workers and local and international labour rights groups expect from Hanesbrands in the closure of Monclova International in Coahuila, Mexico.
“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.”
“…closing a facility is always difficult but we feel that we are doing the things necessary to make the transition from employment with us to others as smooth as possible.”
“The Monclova International closure is imminent. Workers are almost daily being let go with what we understand are illegal and inadequate compensation packages, many are being pressured to sign statements that are also illegal, and there seems to be no serious commitment on the part of Hanesbrands to the future health and well being of either your workers or the community.”