Case story

  • Dominican Republic

Fair Labor Association - Complaint Regarding Gildan Dortex

Dominican Republic 2010

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Case Status

On July 15, 2010, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) received a Third Party Complaint from the SITRAGILDAN union, affiliated with the union federation FEDOTRAZONAS, at the factory Gildan Activewear Dominican Republic (“Gildan Dortex”), located in Guerra, Dominican Republic. Gildan Dortex is one of the Gildan Activewear Inc. factories subject to the FLA program.

The complaint alleged a range of noncompliances with the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct at the factory, in particular with the Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining element of the Code. More specifically, the complaint alleged that Gildan Dortex management violated said code element by engaging in the following practices (potentially relevant compliance benchmarks added within brackets):

1. Harassment and forced resignations in early August 2009 of workers who were in the process of forming the union SITRAGILDAN [FOA.5 & FOA.12].[1]

2. Shortly after SITRAGILDAN was formed, recognition by the firm of a competing union (SITRAGIL) alleged to have connections with management [FOA.7].

3. Negotiation and conclusion of a collective bargaining agreement between the factory and the SITRAGIL union on March 1, 2010 although SITRAGIL did not meet the requirements of the law regarding representation of 50% + 1 of workers [FOA.23].[2]

Story

Investigation by Gildan

At Step 2 of the FLA Third Party Complaint Procedure, Gildan elected to investigate internally the allegations raised in the complaint. On September 24, 2010, Gildan submitted to the FLA the results of its investigation. Gildan responded to each allegation by citing:

1. field investigations completed by Accordia Global Complaince Group, a third-party monitoring organization;

2. a remediation plan which included increased communication and management training to "all levels of staff at the facility and additional training of management on FOA (freedom of association)";

3. a 2009 inspection by the Ministry of Labor reviewing the alleged violations; # evidence of two unions in the Dortex factory, demonstrating that "Dortex are permitting workers to exercise their rights to freedom of association";

4. a "summary judgment issued by the Judge President of the Labor Court of the Judicial District of Santo Domingo";

5. a document from the Ministry of Labor certifying the establishment of the SITRAGIL union and an excerpt from a report conducted by the Fundación Laboral Dominicana (FLD) – stating that the establishment of the SITRAGIL union followed the requirements of the Dominican Labor Code;

6. a March 2010 collective bargaining agreement between Gildan Dortex and the SITRAGIL union.

Independent Review of CBA Process

On March 19, 2010, the FLA and the WRC commissioned the Fundación Laboral Dominicana (FLD), an independent labor rights organization headquartered in Santiago, Dominican Republic, to review the process of affiliation and negotiation of the collective agreement (CBA), signed on March 1, 2010, between Gildan Dortex and SITRAGIL. The objective of the review was to determine if such negotiations were conducted in accord with the labor legislation of the Dominican Republic. Gildan collaborated with the review and to remediate the situation based on the external review’s findings.

On April 8, 2010, the FLD produced a report presenting its findings and recommendations. The central recommendation of the finding was that:

That the process of obtaining the majority of affiliations presented by SITRAGIL to the company be declared null, as there is sufficient evidence to confirm that a significant number of workers registered as affiliated with the union are not aware of how their names turned up on the list of affiliates and assert that the signatures that appear in the affiliation register used by SITRAGIL to obtain an absolute majority are not theirs. That the process of obtaining the majority of affiliations presented by SITRAGIL to the company be declared null, as there is sufficient evidence to confirm that a significant number of workers registered as affiliated with the union are not aware of how their names turned up on the list of affiliates and assert that the signatures that appear in the affiliation register used by SITRAGIL to obtain an absolute majority are not theirs. workers to affiliate or not affiliate to a union and allow workers whose rights were violated through the use of their names for unauthorized purposes, made even greater by the falsification of signatures in public documents, to reclaim them. workers to affiliate or not affiliate to a union and allow workers whose rights were violated through the use of their names for unauthorized purposes, made even greater by the falsification of signatures in public documents, to reclaim them.

Remediation Plan

Upon receipt of the FLD report, the FLA and the WRC corresponded with Gildan to develop an appropriate remediation plan. On April 23, the FLA and the WRC recommended to Gildan a remediation plan to address the freedom of association and collective bargaining issues that had arisen at Gildan Dortex and to avoid similar issues in the future. The remediation plan contained the following recommendations to Gildan, among others:

  • - Rescind the collective bargaining agreement signed between Gildan Dortex and SITRAGIL on March 1, 2010;

  • - Cease to recognize or deal with SITRAGIL/CITA as the representative of workers for the purposes of collective bargaining, until such time as SITRAGIL/CITA would meet the membership requirements under Dominican law to hold such status;

  • - Unilaterally maintain in effect all direct benefits to workers established by the collective bargaining agreement … Discontinue all benefits in the collective bargaining agreement provided to, or through, SITRAGIL/CITA;

  • - Work with a credible, outside organization to carry out a robust program of worker rights education for all workers, including supervisors and managers, at the facility in which representatives of both unions, as well as the WRC and the FLA, are invited to participate;

  • - Work with a credible, outside organization to carry out a robust program of worker rights education for all workers, including supervisors and managers, at the facility in which representatives of both unions, as well as the WRC and the FLA, are invited to participate;

  • - Negotiate with both unions a set of ground rules for organizing covering such issues as access, meetings with workers, distribution of publicity/educational materials, etc...;

Gildan Response to Remediation Plan

On April 29, 2010, Gildan responded to the aforementioned FLA and WRC action plan. Gildan did not object to any of the recommendations, although it qualified its proposed actions with respect to selected recommendations.

Outcome

FLA Assessment of the Complaint

The FLA reviewed the aforementioned internal report submitted by Gildan pursuant to Step 2 of the FLA Third Party Complaint submitted by SITRAGILDAN and concluded that it did not address satisfactorily all of the allegations raised in the complaint.

Therefore, the FLA informed Gildan and the complainant on October 14, 2010, that it had moved the case to Step 3 of the Third Party Complaint Procedure and would conduct further assessment either through an expert or an Independent External Monitor. The FLA has engaged an expert to provide independent assessment of the complaint and prepare a public report and recommendations. We anticipate that the field work for the assessment will take place in January 2011 and a public report will be available in early February 2011.

References

  1. 1. The compliance benchmarks can be accessed at FLA Workplace Code of Conduct and Compliance Benchmarks

    2. FLA Interim Report: Third Party Complaint Regarding Gildan Dortex, Dominican Republic, January 10, 2011. 

  2. Contributor(s): This article was modified by Kyle (9).