Timberland, North Face supplier accused of union busting

Mark Lane | 7th February 2019

BATANGAS – A garment manufacturer in the Philippines which supplies to brands including Timberland, UGG, The North Face and J-Crew has been accused of union busting. It is claimed that Pulido Apparel Company shut down its main factory prior to Christmas to break a union, albeit blaming financial difficulties. The business began rehiring workers at the same factory on two-month contracts just a month later while blacklisting union officers and members. 

Local unions, led by Industriall Global Union, are now demanding the re-instatement of all workers, including activists who have participated in the strike and picket, and for collective bargaining negotiations to take place.

Pulido Apparel, a Philippines subsidiary of the U.S. based leather gloves and fashion accessories manufacturer, Fownes Bros & Co, has around 450 employees at three facilities in San Luis, Bauan and Lipa City.

Workers at Pulido Apparel created their Rank & File Local Union TF-2 in June 2018, which is affiliated to Industriall Global Union. The Pulido Apparel workers’ union was subsequently certified by the Ministry of labour as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent with all the rights and privileges as legitimate labour organisation. 

Industriall claims that on 8 November, a week before collective bargaining was about to begin, the company informed the union that the San Luis factory would be closing. It also dismissed union leaders and union members.

Pulido then ordered the San Luis workers to claim their redundancy pay and sign a document saying they had quit the company, according to the union. 

Valter Sanches, general secretary of Industriall, stated in a letter to Pulido: “These actions constitute a blatant violation of workers’ rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Philippines, as well as international core labour standards such as Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize and Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which the Philippines has ratified.”

Aileen Panuelos, local union president of Pulido Apparel, said: “We are determined to pursue this struggle inflicted to us by Pulido management and their cohorts. We exist because we want to exercise and protect our legitimate rights as workers and human beings. We will bring this fight whenever and wherever it takes together with our allies here in the Philippines and abroad.”