Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Gildan Activewear of Montreal agrees to clean up its act, FINALLY!

Gildan Campaign Update January 25, 2005 Maquila Solidarity Network Gildan Agrees to Do the Right Things; Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN)Suspends Campaign Montreal T-shirt manufacturer, Gildan Activewear, has agreed to a corrective action plan that, if fully implemented, will go a long way toward repairing the damage caused by its decisions to fire approximately 80 union supporters in 2002 and 2003 and to close its El Progeso factory in Honduras during a third party complaint process. The corrective action plan was submitted to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and MSN on January 19. The WRC has since informed its member universities that implementation of Gildan's corrective action plan will bring the company into compliance with its code of conduct obligations. Based on corrective action taken by Gildan to date and the commitments made by the company to the WRC and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to complete remediation, MSN is suspending its campaign on the Gildan El Progreso case. Gildan has agreed to do the following: * provide first-hire preference to former Gildan El Progeso workers at a new sewing factory and at its current sewing facilities in Honduras; * not discriminate against union supporters in hirings; * provide transportation between El Progeso and the new factory; * provide transportation or cover transportation costs to a second factory closer to El Progeso; * cover relocation expenses for workers and their families that choose to be relocated; and * provide training for former El Progreso workers who don't have skills required at the current and new sewing factories. Gildan has also agreed to independent verification of compliance with these commitments. To access Gildan's latest corrective action plan, visit: www.workersrights.org. Commitments on Freedom of Association: In addition to these commitments made to the WRC, Gildan has also taken a number of steps to comply with conditions set by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in order to remain an FLA Participating Company. These include: * Acknowledging there were restrictions in its El Progreso factory on workers' right to freedom of association; * Communicating to its Honduran employees Gildan's commitment to their associational rights; * Disbursing funds providing full back pay and severance pay for 39 union supporters fired in November 2003; * Completing initial training by Verite on freedom of association for workers and managers in Honduras; * Promising to apply its corrective action plan concerning other worker rights violations to all its other factories in Honduras, and * Constructively engaging in discussions with the Maquila Solidarity Network on issues related to Gildan's implementation of FLA Standards. On December 10, the FLA Board of Directors, which had earlier voted to terminate Gildan's membership in the Association if it didn't meet a set of conditions concerning the FLA Freedom of Association Standard, decided to accept Gildan back as a member in good standing, based on "substantial steps" taken by the company to meet those conditions. MSN would like to acknowledge the good faith efforts of senior management at Gildan Activewear over the past few months to resolve outstanding issues in this case and achieve remediation. This represents a significant change in the company's approach in past years. We would also like to recognize the important roles played by the FLA and WRC in pressuring and encouraging Gildan to seriously address these issues. Lastly, we would like to thank all of you who participated in this long and difficult campaign and helped achieve its successful conclusion. MSN will continue to monitor Gildan's labour practices in Honduras and elsewhere. We are hopeful that Gildan will continue to engage in constructive dialogue with MSN and other NGOs and labour organizations to resolve problems when they arise. BACKGROUND: In December 2003, MSN, together with the FITH and the Canadian Labour Congress, filed a formal complaint with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) concerning the 2002 and 2003 firings, alleging there was a pattern of violations of freedom of association at Gildan El Progreso. In May 2004, Gildan received information on the results of the two investigations, confirming that El Progreso workers' right to freedom of association has been violated. Other findings included failure to pay legal overtime pay and holiday pay, discrimination against pregnant workers, and sexual harassment. Gildan enters into joint discussions with the FLA and WRC on a corrective action plan. On July 12, 2004, Gildan informed the FLA and WRC that it was closing the factory on September 30 and claimed the decision had nothing to do with the audit findings or proposals for corrective action. On October 26, 2004, the FLA Board of Directors passed a motion to terminate Gildan's status as a FLA Participating Company, effective December 10, 2004, unless, by November 30, 2004, Gildan implemented an acceptable corrective action plan and met other conditions. In November 2004, Gildan began to engage in constructive dialogue with MSN and EMIH in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues. On December 10, the FLA Board accepted Gildan back as a member in good standing, but also expressed its expectation that Gildan would provide former El Progreso workers first hire preference at current and new factories in Honduras. The WRC informed its member universities that Gildan had not adequately addressed the damage caused by its decision to close the factory during a third party complaint process and was therefore not in compliance with university codes of conduct. On January 19, 2005, Gildan submitted an acceptable corrective action plan to the WRC and MSN.

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