Thursday, 9 November 2006

Gildan Gets Mixed Reviews in latest report

September 27, 2006
Re: MSN, WRC, EMIH report on Gildan Activewear (Honduras)

Dear Friends,
Today the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), the Honduran Independent Monitoring Team (EMIH), and the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) released the second and final update on the verification of Canadian T-shirt manufacturer Gildan Activewear's compliance with a January 2005 agreement to give priority hiring opportunities to approximately 1,800 former employees of the company's Gildan El Progreso factory in Honduras. MSN is not requesting any action as follow up to the final update. The company closed the factory in August of 2004. The surprise announcement of the company's decision to closure the factory was made in the midst of joint discussions between Gildan, the WRC and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) about a corrective action plan to remedy the unjust firings of some 80 union supporters. The verification of compliance with the priority hiring agreement was carried out by EMIH. It found that in the first full month of the agreement, Gildan hired only 20% of the 171 former El Progreso workers who filled out applications, but during the same month hired 145 workers who had never previously worked for Gildan. However, EMIH found that following the initial stage, compliance with the agreement seemed to improve with an increasing proportion of former El Progeso job applicants being hired each month. The update concludes that Gildan's remedial response would have been much more effective had the first hire policy been adopted and implemented immediately following the factory closure before workers were forced to make decisions about whether or not to stay in the region. It goes on to say that it would have been preferable if Gildan had opened a new facility in the El Progreso area, rather than 90 minutes by bus from the town where most of the former Gildan El Progreso workers lived. The release of the update comes on the same day as an announcement by Gildan that in December 2006 it will be closing its textile manufacturing facility in Valleyfield, Quebec and downsizing its knitting facility in Montreal, Quebec. Approximately 200 workers will be out of a job as a result. Gildan also announced that in three or four months, it will be closing and downsizing its sock manufacturing facilities in Mount Airy, North Carolina and Hillsville, Virginia. As a result, approximately 335 positions in the US will be eliminated. According to Gildan, "[t]he Company will treat all employees fairly and will make every effort to alleviate the impact of this transition for the employees whose positions are eliminated." The update on Gildan's compliance with the January 2005 priority hiring agreement includes a series of recommendations to Gildan based on the El Progreso experience. To access the full report and recommendations, go to:

Maquila Solidarity Network / Ethical Trading Action Group
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 3L6
416-532-8584 (phone)
416-532-7688 (fax)

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