MONTREAL – Canadian global apparel business, Gilden, has hit back at accusations by NGOs and unions that its suppliers violated workers’ rights in Haiti and Honduras. Industriall Global Union claims a Gildan supplier in Haiti unfairly dismissed union leaders and activists last year after a strike to demand an increased minimum wage, with fired workers allegedly placed on a blacklist. In addition, it is claimed by NGOs that Sewing International SA (SISA), Gildan Mayan Textiles S. de R.L. has launched an anti-union campaign against its workers in Honduras.
In respect to allegations in Honduras, company spokesperson Claudia Sandoval, vice president, corporate citizenship at Gildan said: “The first allegation is related to the Star facility in El Progresso, Honduras, which was acquired by Gildan in 2012. At the time of the acquisition, the facility was unionised and we have successfully worked together on three renewals of the collective bargaining agreements with the SitraStar union, the last of which was signed in March 2018.
“At the time of the change, employees that agreed to the new system were guaranteed their seniority and received their advance payments as described above. After receipt of the advance payments, the union requested of the Labour Ministry an inspection to review the payment process. The Labour Ministry visited the facility and issued a preliminary report of findings, which were not intended to be considered final, as the Ministry had yet to receive the complete data from the compNy The Company presented this complete data to the Labour Ministry in a hearing in early October that provided evidence to clarify the payment process. The Labour Ministry has communicated that they will review the complete data and issue a final report in the coming months.”
In Haiti, Gildan claimed it had not received notification of the SitraGilmas union or its members at the time of the layoffs. It also claimed it had agreed to reinstate all employees included in the union registration upon receipt of a confirmation letter from the Labour Ministry addressing the formation of the union.
Gildan also claimed that dismissals in Haiti at a sewing contractor engaged by Gildan occurred “at a time when there was wide-spread national unrest in the country.”
It is claimed the unrest was largely related to unresolved election results that prevented the annual revision to the country’s minimum wage. A statement added: “Gildan was notified of the dismissals after they occurred and our contractor indicated at the time that the individuals had been dismissed for attempting to disrupt production in the facility after it had reopened. Gildan has been working with the contractor and other stakeholders to address the situation.”
Gildan Activewear is a Canadian, vertically integrated textile manufacturer of branded clothing, including undecorated blank activewear such as t-shirts, sport shirts and fleeces. The company also supplies branded and private label athletic, casual and dress socks to retail companies in the US including Gold Toe Brands, PowerSox, SilverToe, Auro, All Pro, and the Gildan brand. The company also manufactures and distributes Under Armour and New Balance brand socks.