From Thu Jun 26 14:00:09 2003
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 01:40:10 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: (act-mtl) action against sweatshops and union busting
Article: 160372
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Gildan, a Montreal-based company, uses union-busting and sweatshops to make its profits!

Call to Action Against Sweatshops and Union Busting North and South, 29 June 2003

And the Jazz Fest, a Montreal cultural highlight, gets its T-Shirts from Gildan!

As part of the struggle against a globalized economy that puts profit before people by exploiting workers at home and abroad, among other forms of oppression, people are invited to participate in an action on Sunday, June 29 during the Jazz Festival against sweatshop labor and union busting.

A training is planned to raise awareness about Gildan' labor practices as a local example of how companies resist unionization and move production South in order to exploit cheap labour rather than improve conditions of workers at home. This is followed by street theatre to be performed on various Jazz Fest sites throughout the night and massive flyering for the Jazz Festival to adopt an ethical buying policy and to push Gildan to respect workers demanding better conditions and the right to belong to a union.

Gildan is a big player in the T-Shirt business. Gildan is highly profitable. Gildan is an example of a success story in the new globalized economy.

The Jazz Festival brings tourists and residents together to celebrate music of all kinds. The sale of T-Shirts, made by Gildan, a Montreal-based company, supports the many free outdoor concerts.

Gildan claims to be a good corporate citizen and has been awarded one of this year's Canadian Awards for International Cooperation—the Award for Excellence in Corporate Social and Ethical Responsibility announced by The Honourable Susan Whelan, Minister for International Cooperation: Gildan Activewear's management of its three plants in Honduras is a prime example of how a company can combine business success with corporate social responsibility, said Minister Whelan. Gildan's employees and business partners benefit from a code of ethics and behaviour that values diversity, dignity, fairness and equal opportunity for all.

BUT— the reality?

Gildan, based in Montreal and with several plants in the area has:

  • A dyeing facility on Louvin Street that is unionized by Teamsters because it was so when Gildan purchased it from a bankrupt company called ComDye that closed 5 years ago.
  • Another knitting facility at Montee de Liesse where unionization attempts were unsuccessful after workers, particularly South Asians workers who initiated the union, were terminated.
  • A sewing facility on Clark Street that was recently closed and production moved to Honduras when a unionization attempt was blocked by the company. Tactics included the laying-off of the night shift and then closing the plant.

Gildan has resisted unionization and like many others moved production rather than improve the conditions of workers in Montreal.

When it recently closed its Montreal sewing plant, it added the production to the factory in Rio Nance, Honduras. This is partly because workers tried to unionize and bargain collectively with the company.

Gildan has enlarged its production in Honduran factories as a way to exploit cheaper labour and less regulated conditions than in Montreal.

In its factory in Honduras:

  • People work 11 hour days for an average take home of $16 a day (standard for a Honduran Garment worker) and only if you meet the often high and unattainable quota
  • Women are forced to take pregnancy tests
  • There are supervised bathroom breaks and rationed use of toilet paper
  • The lint and dust from production is continually circulated throughout the factory, completely covering a person's skin and hair after only a short while
  • The temperature inside can reach over 30 degrees Celsius
  • A person is fired for exercising their right to organize a union

In January 2002, Gildan was investigated for these complaints and much more after 38 Honduran workers were fired for trying to unionize their workplace.

And yet it received the Award for Excellence in Corporate Social and Ethical Responsibility! And Gildan Claims on its website to be extremely pleased with the progress of the Rio Nance ramp up and with the manufacturing cost reductions being achieved at this facility.

How does a company that has all these charges against it come to be recognized as socially responsible???

WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production Certification Program, which monitors Gildan) has the lowest labour standards of all the major code-of-conduct initiatives, said Lynda Yanz, co-ordinator of the Maquil= a Solidarity Network, an international network of organizations based in Toronto fighting to improve working conditions in off-shore factories. Owners love WRAP because of its bottom-of-the-barrel standards and because almost no information on their performance is available to the public.

For more information:

Look at the CBC report on the Honduran Factory:

Check out what MSN has to say about the Union Busting activities of Gildan. Also look at the Montreal print media coverage.

The sewing factory in Montreal has recently closed down in order to expand production in Honduras, according to a March 2003 Press release (

Mobilize Against Sweatshops and Union-Busting

Location: School of Community and Public Affairs (basement)
2149 Mackay St (Corner of deMaisonneuve)

Time: 3:30pm

Sponsoring organizations: Immigrant Workers' Center, Social Justice Committee, Center for Philippine Concerns

Contact information: (514) 342-2111