WRC Factory Investigation

Sinolink Garment Manufacturing

Factory: Sinolink Garment Manufacturing

Key Buyers: Arendine, Energie, FUBU, Lee Sport, Lee Sports, One Step Up, Reebok, Starter, Steve Barry’s University Sportswear, The Children’s Place, Walmart

Last Updated: 2006

Case Summary

The WRC launched an emergency assessment of Sinolink in response to a worker complaint in August, 2004. The investigation found serious violations of worker rights in the following areas: freedom of association, including collusion with state police to violently squelch lawful associational activities; health and safety, including workers being locked in the factory overnight without access to first aid supplies; verbal and physical harassment and abuse; inappropriate use of casual employment status; forced and improperly compensated overtime, including forced 24-hour shifts; and access to sick leave and maternity leave. The factory responded constructively to the WRC’s findings and undertook important improvements in working conditions. Most notably, the factory became the first in the Mombasa export processing zone to demonstrate respect for workers’ associational rights by formally recognizing the union elected by employees. Significant progress was also made in the areas of sexual harassment, health and safety, provision of sick leave, and the use of casual employment status. Unfortunately, the improvements at Sinolink were ultimately eroded as a result of the factory’s inability to secure sufficient business. Despite the WRC’s appeals to major licensees and other brands that had been producing in the factory prior to the improvements, none of the companies agreed to return. Serious violations of labor rights at Sinolink have subsequently resurfaced. Although the WRC once recommended Sinolink as a factory with superior labor rights practices, we cannot continue this recommendation.

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