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

JoeAnne Company International Factory (JoeAnne Dominicana)

In 2013, the WRC conducted an investigation of JoeAnne Dominicana in response to a complaint alleging that employees had been dismissed in retaliation for exercising their associational rights. The WRC’s investigation found compelling evidence that at least five workers were terminated in retaliation for participating in a meeting with representatives of a union federation. The WRC also found evidence that at least one worker was dismissed for perceived union activities after being seen conversing regularly with identified union leaders and another worker was fired after stating that she believed workers had been fired for attempting to form a union. These actions violate both university codes of conduct and Dominican law.

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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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Style Avenue S.A.

Style Avenue was found to have multiple and repeated labor rights violations, including forced overtime, illegal terminations, verbal abuse by management, failure to respect freedom of association, locking workers in the factory, excessive heat, and unsanitary conditions.

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Petralex

The WRC’s initial investigation at Petralex documented systematic labor rights violations, including retaliatory firings of union leaders, who were protected from dismissal by Honduran law, as well as the firing of other workers who were supporters of the union or family members of union leaders.

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Thai Garment Export 5

The WRC’s assessment of Thai Garment Export, which was launched in May 2013, identified violations of Thai law and international labor standards in the following areas: occupational health and safety including excessive heat levels, inadequate sanitary facilities, safe drinking water, excessive noise levels, lighting levels, fire safety; freedom of association; hours of work including involuntary…

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I-Cheng (Cambodia) Co., Ltd.

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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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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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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Yue Yuen (Holdings), Limited

In April 2014, longstanding violations of workers’ rights under local laws and university codes of conduct at Yue Yuen (Holdings) Limited, a top supplier of collegiate licensed athletic footwear, led an estimated 30,000 employees at its factories in southern China to launch a strike that drew international media attention.

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