WRC Factory Investigation

Genesis, S.A.

Factory: Genesis, S.A.

Key Buyers: Ad Resources, Cotton Gallery, Gildan

Last Updated: 2013

Case Summary

In December 2011 and January 2012, four union leaders who had been illegally fired by t-shirt factory Genesis, S.A. were reinstated at the urging of the factory’s main customer, Gildan Activewear. On September 16, 2011, a new industry-wide union named Sendika Ouvriye Takstil ak Abiman (SOTA) received its legal registration to represent workers in the apparel and textile industry in Haiti and publicly announced its plans to campaign for better wages and working conditions for Haiti’s apparel workers. Haitian apparel workers receive the lowest wages in the hemisphere and face some of the harshest working conditions anywhere in the global apparel industry. Within two weeks, six of the seven leaders had been fired or pressured into resigning by three separate factories. Four of the dismissals took place at Genesis. Employer retaliation against workers for their union activity is a violation of international labor standards, university codes of conduct, and Haitian law.

In the wake of a report by the WRC finding that the dismissals were retaliatory – a conclusion later corroborated by the ILO/IFC-sponsored Better Work Haiti program – Gildan and Hanes successfully pressed the factories to reinstate the workers. In addition, the WRC has documented minimum wage violations at Genesis, S.A. Since 2011, the International Labour 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 that every 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.

In response to the WRC’s report, Genesis’ primary buyer, Gildan Activewear, has committed to bring their Haitian supplier factories into compliance with the minimum wage. In addition, Gildan Activewear has committed to negotiate directly with worker representatives in Haiti to remedy past non-compliance and make workers whole for past wage theft.

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