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

Istmo

The primary issue of concern at the factory has been violations of workers’ associational rights, including illegal firings of trade union members and threats against union supporters. Additional violations that have been uncovered in the course of the WRC’s work at the factory include forced overtime, discrimination against pregnant workers, and failure to pay workers on time and other payroll irregularities that have the effect of denying workers full payment for hours worked, among other issues. We are pleased to report that there has been very significant progress in addressing these issues, thanks in large part to efforts by Gap.

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Gildan El Progreso S.A. (Gildan Activewear)

In January 2004, the WRC received a complaint from the Maquila Solidarity Network (a Canadian non-governmental organization) supported by the Federación Independiente de Trabajadores Hondureños (FITH, Independent Federation of Honduran Workers) and Canadian Labour Congress, on behalf of a group of workers alleging labor rights violations at Gildan El Progreso.

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Evergreen

Pursuant to a complaint from worker representatives, the WRC investigated and engaged in efforts to remediate code of conduct violations at an apparel facility in El Salvador known as Evergreen. The initial complaint alleged that Evergreen had unlawfully terminated a group of roughly 300 workers in March 2005 in retaliation for efforts by workers to exercise their associational rights and had failed to pay these workers legally mandated back wages, benefits and severance.

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Double Star

The WRC has been working since November 2003 to correct code of conduct violations at the Double Star factory in Thailand. The WRC assessment identified serious code of conduct violations pertaining to freedom of association, wages, hours of work, and occupational health and safety.

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Calypso

During July and September of 2006, the WRC received three separate complaints from worker representatives concerning three factories in Central America owned by a single multinational apparel corporation, known as the Argus Group. In each case it was alleged that workers who had associated with a trade union had been fired illegally. Other areas of concern included occupational health and safety and overtime.

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Bright Sky

The WRC has conducted emergency assessments at Ocean Sky factories, including Bright Sky, Suntex and Rainbow Screen Printing in Cambodia following violent attacks against prominent union figures. The President of Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) was brutally attacked by a group of men with an iron pipe and sticks and has faced additional attacks.

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Atlantic

During July and September of 2006, the WRC received three separate complaints from worker representatives concerning three factories in Central America owned by a single multinational apparel corporation, known as the Argus Group. In each case it was alleged that workers who had associated with a trade union had been fired illegally. Other areas of concern included occupational health and safety and overtime.

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Nangrong Pacific

The WRC undertook an Assessment in response to a complaint from workers alleging a range of code of conduct violations, primarily in the areas of collective bargaining, the provision of benefits, homework, and occupational health and safety.

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Lian Thai

The WRC undertook an Assessment of Lian Thai in response to a complaint from workers alleging a range of code of conduct violations, primarily in the areas of collective bargaining, the provision of benefits, homework, and occupational health and safety.

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Hana Cambodia

Through the course of our investigative work at Hana, the WRC identified serious violations in the areas of overtime and overtime compensation, freedom of association, harassment and abuse, and occupational health and safety. Among the most serious violations, factory management had unlawfully terminated three union officers in what the available evidence indicated was a brazen act of retaliation for the workers’ efforts to advocate for improved working conditions.

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