Columbia Supplier Says It Has Terminated Managers Who Directed Violence


July 5, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

As we have reported, the WRC has, since May, been pressing Columbia Sportswear and other brands producing at Shahi Exports’ Unit 8 factory to compel Shahi to terminate managers and supervisors responsible for physical assaults, death threats, and other abuses against workers. Last week, after the publication of the WRC’s report on the case, Shahi suspended seven of the eight managers and supervisors identified through the WRC’s investigation, which made it possible for the victimized workers to return safely to the factory – which they did on June 27, in a process observed onsite by the WRC and buyers. The crucial question remained, however, whether Shahi would proceed to actually terminate the violent managers and supervisors, a corrective action essential to effective remediation.

We are pleased to report that Shahi has now informed the workers’ union that the company has terminated five of these individuals and has initiated termination proceedings against two others (whose particular employment status requires a multi-part termination process). Shahi has also provided back pay to the 15 workers who returned to the factory last week, for the three-month period when they were suspended, along with monetary compensation for personal items taken from them during the violence and compensation for injuries. Last week, as we reported, Shahi also recognized the union and agreed to regular negotiations. These actions represent crucial progress and put the factory on track toward full remediation, provided Shahi follows through on remaining steps.

The WRC has requested that Columbia obtain from Shahi detailed written confirmation of the terminations – as of now, the names of the managers Shahi says it has terminated have been provided only via a verbal exchange with a union leader. It is important that this be memorialized in writing and that Shahi also provide factory records documenting these personnel actions. We also have reiterated to Columbia that Shahi must also terminate the eighth individual identified in the WRC’s report as bearing direct responsibility for the violence: a manager named Krishna who led multiple violent attacks against workers, but still remains employed by Shahi at Unit 8. If Shahi does so, if it fulfills its commitment to hold monthly good faith negotiations with the workers’ union, and if it refrains from any further violations, the factory will achieve compliance with university standards on associational rights.

As discussed in previous communications, Columbia, in its own monitoring of Shahi’s labor practices, failed to prevent or adequately respond to the violence and other abuses against workers at this factory (a failure shared by other brands doing business with Shahi). However, following the WRC’s public issuance of our report, and the engagement of a number of universities with Columbia, the licensee clearly engaged more forcefully with Shahi, as did some other buyers. This has helped produce the important progress we reported last week and today. We will keep you posted with respect to the outstanding matters noted above and we expect to issue further updates in the weeks ahead.

The gravity of the violations at Shahi Unit 8, and the nature of the licensee’s response, have broader implications for universities’ efforts to ensure compliance with their standards and protect the human rights of workers in the collegiate supply chain. We will also prepare a more detailed analysis of these implications and will share this with affiliates.

We appreciate universities’ ongoing engagement with Columbia on this case. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.



Scott Nova 
Executive Director
Worker Rights Consortium