WRC Secures Rehiring and a Year of Back Pay for 83 Illegally Fired Workers in Haiti
|To:||WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges|
|From:||Tara Mathur and Ben Hensler|
|Date:||July 14, 2023|
|Re:||WRC Secures Rehiring and a Year of Back Pay for 83 Illegally Fired Workers in Haiti|
The WRC has secured one year’s back pay and rehiring for 83 workers who were illegally fired, then blacklisted, by two garment manufacturers in Haiti. Both factories supply Gildan Activewear, a major producer of blank goods for university licensees. One of the factories, Palm Apparel, produces collegiate apparel for New Agenda.
The WRC’s investigation found that when Palm Apparel closed one of its factories in Haiti it blacklisted 19 workers who were leaders of a union at the facility by deliberately excluding them from the group of workers it permitted to transfer to another of its factories. Such discrimination violates workers’ right to freedom of association under university codes of conduct and Haitian law.
At another Gildan supplier in Haiti, Centri Group, the WRC found that the factory terminated, en masse,a group of 64 workers in retaliation for their engaging in a nonviolent protest over unpaid overtime. Centri Group supplies Gildan with blank goods for non-collegiate apparel.
As discussed in our new report and in this commentary, the WRC was able to secure extensive commitments for corrective action at both factories. Gildan and New Agenda contributed to this positive outcome. The factories agreed to rehire all the terminated workers and to pay each of them the equivalent of 12 months’ back wages. This back pay was distributed to the workers in the last two weeks (see photos below), and the rehiring will be completed over the next several months.
The restoration of workers’ income and employment, and the vindication of their fundamental workplace rights, are especially notable given the fragile state of Haiti’s garment industry, the country’s ongoing political and social crisis, and the extremely vulnerable situation of its people.