Tragedy in Honduras

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova
Date:June 30, 2023
Re:Tragedy in Honduras

The WRC was shocked and saddened this week by the murder of four workers and union leaders from Gildan Activewear’s Gildan Activewear San Miguel factory in Choloma, Honduras. Gildan employees and union leaders, Xiomara Beatriz Cocas, Delmer Josué García, José Rufino Ortiz, and Lesther Arnulfo Almendarez, as well as Xiomara Cocas’s son, Eduardo Alexander Meléndez, were killed by unidentified gunmen, on the evening of Saturday, June 24.

Eight other persons, who were not Gildan employees or associated with the union, were also slain in the mass shooting, which occurred in a public place in Choloma, away from the industrial park where the factory is located. The WRC has not seen any evidence as yet to indicate that the union leaders were targeted in the shooting.

Gildan had recently announced that it will be closing the San Miguel factory, which had been disclosed for production of licensed collegiate apparel by Fanatics, Lakeshirts, Lo + Jo Brands, MV Sport, New Agenda, and Onward Capital.

On Monday, June 26, the WRC sent a message of condolence and solidarity to the Central General de Trabajadores (CGT), the labor federation with which the union headed by the slain worker leaders, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Gildan San Miguel (SITRAGSAM), is affiliated. The CGT is one of the world’s most prominent and effective unions representing workers manufacturing collegiate and other apparel, including thousands of employees in Honduran factories operated by Fruit of the Loom, Gildan, Hanes, and other companies.In the wake of these tragic killings, the CGT has called for the Honduran authorities to investigate the murder of its slain leaders at Gildan Activewear San Miguel and prosecute those found responsible; and for the government and Gildan, itself, to protect the lives and safety of union members and workers at this factory and others in the Honduran garment industry. The WRC shares the union’s sorrow at these senseless deaths and supports this call for justice and security.