Right to Organize and Bargain

Photograph of workers protestingA worker’s right to organize and bargain collectively is protected in international covenants, from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ILO conventions, and is protected by national laws in most countries. Yet workers around the world still routinely face threats, dismissal from their jobs, and even outright violence when they seek to join or form a union.

The presence of an independent union in a workplace can help enable workers to identify and raise concerns regarding health and safety hazards, wage-and-hour violations, or provision of health and retirement benefits. When employers are allowed retaliate against workers who speak out, this deters workers from pressing their employers to correct other violations, or from speaking openly to labor rights monitors such as the WRC about conditions in their workplaces.

Together with our allies, the WRC has helped more than 1,500 workers win reinstatement after they were illegally fired and, in some cases, violently attacked for exercising right to organize and bargain collectively.

Related Factory Investigations

Gildan Villanueva

The WRC’s investigative work at Gildan Villanueva began after a complaint was filed by several of the factory’s employees stating that they had been fired in May 2013 in retaliation for their efforts to seek assistance from a local, non-governmental organization in order to improve working conditions at the facility. The workers alleged that supervisors openly expressed hostility towards the workers who met with the organization for their participation in protected, concerted activities, and that many of them were subsequently fired as a result of their participation in these efforts.

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Kin Tai Garment

The WRC’s assessment of Kin Tai, initiated in March 2013, identified a number of serious labor rights violations in the areas of: (1) employment contracts, including illegal employment of workers on short-term contracts and as casual labor; (2) wages and benefits, including failure to properly provide legally required bonuses and paid leaves; and (3) occupational health and safety, including failing to provide employees with necessary protective equipment.

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BKI, S.A.

The WRC’s assessment of BKI identified noncompliance with the Ordinance’s requirements in the following main areas: (1) wages and hours, (2) abuse, and (3) occupational health and safety.

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I-Cheng

The WRC’s assessment of I-Cheng found violations in the areas of: (1) wages and hours, including payment of a probationary wage that is below the legal minimum, and unlawful involuntary overtime; (2) gender discrimination, including an explicit policy of hiring men on contracts of shorter duration than those under which the company hires women; (3) freedom of association, including the establishment of and compelling membership in a company-controlled labor union, unlawful unauthorized deductions of union dues from workers’ wages, and the illegal retaliatory termination, in May 2014, of 243 employees who were members of an independent union; (4) statutory paid sick leave, including failure to pay such legally-required benefits to employees; and (5) occupational health and safety, including heat levels so excessive that they regularly cause employees to faint on the job.

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I-Cheng (Cambodia) Co., Ltd.

The WRC’s assessment of I-Cheng found violations in the areas of wages and hours; gender discrimination; freedom of association; statutory paid sick leave; and occupational health and safety.

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Canteran Apparel

The WRC report “Crackdown in Cambodia,” dated March 24, 2014, detailed deadly attacks by Cambodian security forces on protesting Cambodian garment workers.

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Centro Textil (Centex)

The WRC found compelling evidence that Centex violated Nicaraguan law, international labor standards, and university codes of conduct by engaging in the following acts: (1) terminating 15 workers in retaliation for forming a union, (2) threatening the remaining workers to dissuade them from exercising their associational rights, and (3) attempting to induce workers, including via offers of financial inducements, to forgo their right to reinstatement.

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Jerzees Buena Vista

In October 2015, Fruit of the Loom announced to workers that it would be closing Jerzees Buena Vista and consolidating its operation and workforce into a second facility owned by the company, Manufacturas Villanueva. The company negotiated with the union the terms of the consolidation and, in early 2016, workers at Jerzees Buena Vista terminated their employment with the factory and, if they so desired, were hired at Manufacturas Villanueva.

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Zongtex Garment Manufacturing

Since initiating an investigation in response to worker complaints, the WRC has documented violations at both Zongtex’s main factory in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and a second Zongtex-owned factory in Pochentong, Cambodia that appears to operate as a “hidden,” unregistered subcontractor to the main facility. Among other violations of university codes of conduct,…

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Confecciones Gama

The WRC received a complaint with regards to the failure of the Confecciones Gama plant, located in El Salvador, to pay workers the full amount of their legally-required terminal benefits, which were owed to them at the time that the factory shut down its sewing operation in June 2011.

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