VF probes union-busting claims at Philippines supplier

Victoria Gallagher | 25th February 2019

GREENSBORO – US apparel company, VF Corp, has given a non-committal response to allegations of union-busting at a garment manufacturer in the Philippines which supplies some of its brands, including The North Face. The US business said it was in contact with factory management and working to understand the situation and specific allegations. Meanwhile, J-Crew, which also sources from the factory, did not respond, while Deckers Brands simply sent a generic statement which said it has a robust ethical supply chain supplier code of conduct that it expects “all our factory partners, licensees, agents to abide by.”

The allegations of union busting concern Pulido Apparel Company, a garment manufacturer in the Philippines which supplies to brands including Timberland, UGG, The North Face and J-Crew. It is claimed Pulido 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 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.

In response to the allegations, VF Corp said: “VF’s Global Compliance Principles and corresponding auditing procedures serve as the foundation for our approach to worker safety, factory performance and worker well-being. These principles explicitly describe VF’s expectations around Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining: VF Authorized Facilities shall recognise and respect the right of employees to freedom of association and collective bargaining. No employee shall be subject to harassment, intimidation or retaliation in their efforts to freely associate or bargain collectively.”

If the allegations are true, Pulido Apparel Company has clearly breached these supplier guidelines. Apparel Insider has contacted the business for comment.