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.
Two complaints about the impact of high production targets and long work shifts on women workers’ health has exposed the limitations of existing multi-stakeholder code monitoring initiatives.
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.
Apparel brands with production in Honduras, including adidas Group, Nike Inc. and Gap Inc., released a joint letter sent to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "calling for the restoration of democracy in Honduras" following the June 28th military coup. The brands urged "an immediate resolution to the crisis" and asked that "civil liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association be fully respected."
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.”