Factory: Chong Won Fashion, Inc. (C. Woo Inc.)
Key Buyers: Oarsman Sportswear, Walmart
In response to a worker complaint, the WRC launched an investigation into alleged labor rights violations at Chong Won in late October, 2006. The investigation found serious and ongoing labor rights violations at Chong Won, including minimum wage violations, forced overtime, violations of workers’ right to unionize and bargain collectively, and, of particular concern, collusion by factory management with government agents in violence against workers engaged in a lawful and peaceful strike.
With respect to freedom of association, Chong Won’s misdeeds were among the most egregious and persistent that the WRC has ever encountered. Both Chong Won management and Wal-Mart failed to take adequate steps to remediate the violations. As of late March, 2007, the factory has been closed. Striking workers continued to maintain a picket line until they were reportedly forcibly removed by unidentified armed men in June, 2007. The WRC report on Chong Won also includes an examination of the broader issue of political violence in the Philippines and its implications for efforts to protect worker rights.
- WRC Assessment re Chong Won (Philippians) – February 21, 2007
In the News:
- “Wal-Mart faces Manila labour challenge” – The Financial Times – March 2, 2007
- “Group slams Wal-Mart for factory abuses” – CNN Money.com – February 21, 2007
In the report, the WRC recommended that all university licensees sourcing from the Philippines communicate with the Philippine government to express concern about the violence, in light of the severe impact it has on the ability of workers in collegiate apparel factories to exercise their rights. In May of 2007, a number of licensees signed a joint letter to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, calling on the government to take measures to protect labor rights advocates. This followed a November, 2006 letter from a number of prominent North American apparel companies, written at the urging of the Maquila Solidarity Network. The following are links to these and related letters:
- Letter of concern from apparel companies – November 7, 2006
- Letter of concern from university licensees – May 2, 2007
- Reply from Department of Labor and Employment – June 9, 2007
- Letter of renewed concern from apparel companies – August 3, 2007
- WRC response to Dept. of Labor and Employment – September 11, 2007
The following links provide additional, related information from other organizations on the Chong Won case. Please note that the WRC has not endorsed these pages and cannot vouch for their accuracy.
- Maquila Solidarity Network: Chong Won Campaign
- Workers Assistance Center (Philippines): WAC Condemns on-going and continued violence and attacks of unions – August 10, 2007
- Joint Open Letter to Wal-Mart re: Chong Won
- International Labor Rights Fund: Petition to Request a Review of the GSP Status of the Philippines for Violations of Worker Rights