WRC Assessment: Gildan Villanueva (Honduras)
|WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
|Scott Nova and Jessica Champagne
|December 23, 2014
|WRC Assessment: Gildan Villanueva (Honduras)
Please find herea report on worker rights violations, and steps taken to remedy these violations, at the Gildan Villanueva facility in Honduras. Gildan Villanueva, which is wholly owned by Gildan Activewear, is disclosed as a supplier of collegiate licensed apparel by Rocket Sportswear, J America Sportswear and Cotton Gallery.
In May 2013, several Gildan Villanueva workers filed a complaint with the WRC alleging that factory management had carried out illegal and retaliatory dismissals of workers in response to their effort to seek assistance from a local, non-governmental organization, the Centro de Derechos de Mujeres (CDM), in order to improve working conditions at the facility. While the WRC was not able to contact all of the terminated workers, WRC investigators confirmed that certain workers had been terminated in retaliation for their contact with CDM.
On September 27, 2013, Gildan committed to rehire the workers in question. However, most of the workers were not contacted with offers to return to the plant until last month. After more than 17 months of written communications and in-person and telephone meetings initiated by the WRC and the CDM with Gildan, the company largely remediated the retaliatory terminations in November – December 2014, providing the workers in question with the opportunity to return to work at the plant. The WRC also pressed Gildan to provide these workers with lost wages for the time they were off the job; Gildan has agreed to provide each worker with four months’ compensation. Unfortunately, workers report that, at the time that these funds were provided, Gildan representatives compounded the violations of workers’ associational rights in at least two cases; in one case, the company representative told a worker not to have further contact with CDM or the WRC.
The slow pace of Gildan’s response in this case has been a serious obstacle to full remediation. By the time Gildan acted on its commitment to address these terminations, five workers had dropped out of contact and could not be reached to receive any compensation or offering of rehiring. In addition, the rest of the workers in the factory observed, for seventeen months, that workers who come together to discuss workplace issues can be terminated and removed from the workplace. This experience no doubt significantly dissuaded other workers from attempting to engage in similar organizing or outreach to local organizations and advocates.
In addition, Gildan’s refusal to allow a site visit, to provide copies of primary documents over email, and to respond to queries regarding contact with specific workers constitutes an obstacle to full investigation by the WRC. In this case, the WRC was able to confirm the relevant facts through contact with workers. However, as a producer of university logo product, Gildan is obligated, as a vendor to university licensees, to cooperate fully with the WRC’s investigation and remediation efforts.
The WRC will be monitoring the situation to ensure that several remaining workers are rehired in January in line with Gildan’s commitments, and to ensure that the rehired workers do not face any further retaliation or discrimination based on their exercise of their associational rights.