Repeated Violations of Workers’ Rights at Petralex (Honduras)

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova and Jessica Champagne
Date:April 21, 2015
Re:Repeated Violations of Workers’ Rights at Petralex (Honduras)

Over the past six months, the Petralex factory in Villanueva, Honduras, has illegally terminated at least 15 workers who are members or elected leaders in a labor union. Petralex produces university licensed apparel for Box Seat, College Vault by adidas by Outerstuff, Outerstuff, Team Athletics, Gear for Sports, Under Armour by Gear for Sports, VF (both JanSport and Section 101 by Majestic), and the Dallas Cowboys.

As outlined in this report, violations at Petralex were documented as early as 2007; credible reports indicate that the company has repeatedly refused to acknowledge a union formed by Petralex workers, known as SITRAPETRALEX, and, instead, terminated union leaders despite clear prohibitions in Honduran labor law and university codes of conduct to the contrary.

A WRC investigation found that, in recent months, Petralex terminated at least 17 workers who were involved in the SITRAPETRALEX union, affiliated to the Federacion Independiente de Trabajadores de Honduras (FITH), or family members of the SITRAPETRALEX union, in violation of Honduran law and university codes of conduct. The evidence indicates that at least 15 of these terminations were either retaliatory, or in violation of Honduran law protecting union leaders, or both.

Prompt and complete implementation of these remediative actions will be necessary to address the impact of the November and March terminations, and to shift the climate of fear that has been created by years of repeated retaliation against workers who attempt to form unions.

The first and most crucial step in this remediation is immediate reinstatement for the terminated workers. Every day that a worker is off the job due to a retaliatory termination is not only a burden to that worker and her family, but also impacts the other workers in the facility. It sends a message to the full workforce that any worker who attempts to exercise her associational rights risks termination, and it denies all workers who are union members the right to be represented by the leaders of their choice. Until these workers are returned to the workplace, no statement or training will have a meaningful impact; it is not reasonable to expect workers to believe assurances that freedom of association will be respected when they know that several of their coworkers are still off the job due to retaliatory terminations. 

Once these workers are back on the job, a complete plan for remediation, including the steps noted in this report, should be implemented with the involvement of the workplace union and the approval of the WRC, in order to undo the negative impact of Petralex’s violations of workers’ associational rights.

Given Petralex’s history of similar violations, engagement by the university licensees that source apparel from the factory will be necessary to ensure full remediation. While preparing this report, the WRC contacted all licensees disclosing Petralex as a supplier; several noted that they were looking into the case and, in some cases, had contacted the factory. The WRC has shared these findings and recommendations with licensees and will be providing additional information to universities on the progress of remediation and actions taken by licensees as the situation develops.

Scott Nova 
Worker Rights Consortium 
5 Thomas Circle NW, 5th Floor 
Washington DC 20005 
ph  202 387 4884 
fax 202 387 3292 
[email protected]