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Hanesbrands Campaign 2006-2007

Hanesbrands Responds to Pressure

In October 2006, MSN was contacted by our colleagues at SEDEPAC, a member of the Espacio based in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, concerning the imminent closure of a Hanesbrands factory in the city of Monclova. 

Hanes logoHanesbrands Inc. is one of the top global apparel and garment companies, producing T-shirts, bras, panties, men’s underwear, kids' underwear, socks, hosiery, casualwear and activewear. In 2005 Hanesbrands sold more than 400 million T-shirts and almost half a billion pairs of socks. Its brands include Hanes, Champion, Playtex, Bali, L’eggs, Just My Size, BarelyThere and Wonderbra.

According to SEDEPAC, workers laid off prior to the Monclova closure had not received their full legal severance pay. Other workers saw their salaries decrease in the last few months of employment due to a sudden increase in the production quotas, which resulted in a reduction in their severance pay.

In addition, workers were pressured to sign documents asserting that they had not suffered any work-related injuries or illnesses before receiving severance, which could result in deserving workers not receiving health benefits. Workers also reported that they had suffered serious, and some cases, permanent, work-related health problems as a result of their years of work at Hanesbrands, but that the company was unwilling to provide them the documents to which they were entitled, to enable them to access legal health-related benefits from government social security.

MSN and SEDEPAC staff worked together to document what was taking place in Monclova, as well as Hanesbrands’ historical practices with factory closures in the US. (At that time Hanesbrands was owned by Sara Lee.) Based on the research, MSN drafted a letter to Hanesbrands and contacted US religious organizations with investments in the company, while SEDEPAC used the information to gain extensive local media coverage of the issues.

In December 2006, Hanesbrands closed its factory in Monclova, leaving 1,400 workers unemployed. In response to negative media reports and pressure from SEDEPAC and MSN, Hanesbrands did provide legal severance to the workers still employed at the factory at the time of the closure and apparently stopped requiring workers to sign documents relinquishing their right to compensation for work-related illnesses and injuries.

However, it failed to respond to requests for information on its plans for its remaining factories in Mexico or to assist its former Monclova workers with retraining and job searches.

According to media reports in Monclova, Hanesbrands is shifting production from Mexico to Central America where labour costs are cheaper.

March 29, 2007

MSN follow-up with Hanesbrands

"In your November 28 response to us, you recognized such responsibility and described your intention 'to do everything (…) to help replace the jobs that are lost.' Our understanding is that approximately 1,700 workers have been left jobless with the closing of your Monclova International facility. Three months later, following on the spirit of your letter, we would ask that you provide us an update on what assistance your company has provided to its former workers."

November 30, 2006

Monclova International: Responsible Closure – the bottom line

What workers and local and international labour rights groups expect from Hanesbrands in the closure of Monclova International in Coahuila, Mexico.

November 29, 2006

MSN response to Hanesbrands

“Obviously we did not find your letter a helpful response to our attempt to initiate a dialogue and process for ‘a responsible transition.’ In fact, quite the opposite: I was shocked at your response. Most telling is your company’s assertion that the laid-off workers should be expected to pay for their own retraining and job searches ‘while supporting their families in the transition’ out of the severance pay they receive from your company. This statement alone will put to rest any illusions that ethical investors, buyers and consumers might have that Hanesbrands is a socially responsible company.”

November 28, 2006

Hanesbrands letter to MSN

“…closing a facility is always difficult but we feel that we are doing the things necessary to make the transition from employment with us to others as smooth as possible.”

November 21, 2006

MSN letter to Hanesbrands

“The Monclova International closure is imminent. Workers are almost daily being let go with what we understand are illegal and inadequate compensation packages, many are being pressured to sign statements that are also illegal, and there seems to be no serious commitment on the part of Hanesbrands to the future health and well being of either your workers or the community.”

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