WRC Report on Massive Wage Theft in Haitian Garment Factories

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To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova, Ben Hensler and Sarah Adler-Milstein
Date:October 15, 2013
Re:WRC Report on Massive Wage Theft in Haitian Garment Factories

At this link please find a newly-released report from the WRC documenting pervasive minimum wage violations in export garment factories in Haiti, including those producing university licensed apparel.

Since 2011, the International Labor Organization and International Finance Corporation’s Better Work Haiti factory monitoring program has consistently reported overwhelming noncompliance by Haitian export garment factories with the country’s legal minimum wage. A report from Better Work Haiti in April 2013 indicated thatevery one of the country’s export garment factories was violating the law.

The WRC’s new report details for the first time, however, the massive scale of the unlawful denial of wages taking place in Haitian garment factories and its severe impact on Haitian garment workers and their families, revealing that these workers ‒ some of the poorest in the world ‒ are seeing roughly a third of their legally earned wages being effectively stolen every pay period. The report urges licensees and other North American apparel companies doing business in Haiti to immediately require their supplier factories in the country to begin paying their workers in accordance with the minimum wage law and to provide full back-pay to workers for past wage-and-hour violations.

As already noted, the fact that there have been ongoing and widespread minimum wage violations in the country’s garment sector has, or should have, been known to licensees and other companies sourcing from Haiti ‒ both from the public reporting of Better Work Haiti and, we must assume, from each company’s own supply chain monitoring ‒ for some time. Yet this epidemic of wage theft, which, as this report details, leaves Haitian garment workers and their families without access to adequate food, shelter and medical care, has continued unabated for several years, with buyers failing to take effective corrective action.

The WRC has already shared this report with both those licensees that have disclosed producing collegiate apparel with garments manufactured in Haiti ‒ Ad Resources, Cotton Gallery, Lake Shirts, New Agenda, Russell and T-Shirt International ‒ and leading apparel manufacturers Gildan and HanesBrands, which are both major purchasers of t-shirts from supplier factories in Haiti and a significant source of blank apparel to many licensees. We are awaiting substantive responses from these companies as to the findings and recommendations in this report, and will share them with affiliate universities and colleges when they are received.

We are hopeful that the report will lead to code compliance at the affected collegiate factories and remediation for apparel workers throughout the industry in Haiti.Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about the report’s findings and recommendations.

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