Preliminary Report on Unlawful Dismissals at Genesis, S.A. (Haiti)
|To:||WRC Affiliate Colleges and Universities|
|From:||Scott Nova and Jessica Champagne|
|Date:||October 11, 2011|
|Re:||Preliminary Report on Unlawful Dismissals at Genesis, S.A. (Haiti)|
Please find here a preliminary report on findings of labor rights violations at a collegiate factory in Haiti, Genesis, S.A. The factory has been the most serious offender in a multi-factory campaign of retaliatory dismissals, targeted at the leaders of a new labor rights and union organizing effort in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
On September 16, a new industry-wide union named Sendika Ouvriye Takstil ak Abiman (SOTA) received its legal registration to represent workers in the apparel and textile industry in Haiti and publicly announced its plans to campaign for better wages and working conditions for Haiti’s apparel workers. Haitian apparel workers receive the lowest wages in the hemisphere and face some of the harshest working conditions anywhere in the global apparel industry.
SOTA announced a leadership committee of seven workers, from several different textile factories. Within two weeks, six of the seven leaders had been fired or pressured into resigning, by three separate factories. Four of the dismissals took place at Genesis. Employer retaliation against workers for their union activity is a violation of international labor standards, university codes of conduct, and Haitian law.
Two collegiate licensees, Ad Resources and Cotton Gallery, disclose Genesis as a collegiate factory. Both brands buy their products through Gildan, which purchases virtually all of the factory’s output. The WRC is communicating with both licensees. In addition, a second factory involved in the firings, Multiwear, S.A., while not disclosed as a collegiate factory, produces much of its volume of shirts for HanesBrands, which owns Gear for Sports. We are also communicating with both Gildan and Hanes and have asked them to take swift action to ensure that workers are reinstated, with back pay. In addition, Genesis, and the other factories involved, should publicly make clear their commitment to respect their workers’ associational and free speech rights and, to this end, should begin an open dialogue with SOTA.
We will keep you informed as to the response of the licensees and will update you as the situation develops. We are hopeful that reinstatement can be swiftly achieved and that SOTA’s initiative will open the door to long overdue progress on worker rights in Haiti’s apparel sector.
As always, please contact us with any questions or thoughts.