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WELCOME TO THE ARCHIVE (1994-2014) OF THE MAQUILA SOLIDARITY NETWORK. For current information on our ongoing work on the living wage, women's labour rights, freedom of association, corporate accountability and Bangladesh fire and safety, please visit our new website, launched in October, 2015: www.maquilasolidarity.org

MSN letter to Hanesbrands

November 21, 2006

Chris Fox, Vice President of Social Compliance
Hanesbrands Inc.
1000 East Hanes Mill Road
Winston Salem, NC 27105
United States

Dear Mr. Fox:

I am writing on behalf of the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) to express our concern regarding Hanesbrands’ (formerly a division of Sara Lee Corp) handling of the November 30, 2006 scheduled closure of its Monclova International facility in Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico. 

As you may know, MSN is a Canadian-based labour rights network working to promote improved working conditions in the global garment and sportswear industries. Over the last two years our work has focused as well on the impacts on workers and their communities of the dramatic reorganization taking place in the garment industry following the elimination of quotas at the end of 2004. MSN is an active participant, and member of the Executive Committee, of the multi-stakeholder initiative the MFA Forum.

In early September, following your company’s announcement that it would be closing three facilities, including one in Mexico, we were contacted by our local partner group, SEDEPAC, which has a long history defending workers’ rights in the state of Coahuila, and particularly in Monclova. 

Besides being shocked at your company’s decision to close the Monclova facility only two years following the closure of another large facility in the same community (Confecciones de Monclova), our friends at SEDEPAC and the Hanesbrands workers with whom they are in contact expressed frustration at your local management’s seemingly irresponsible handling of its legal and ethical responsibilities related to the closure. As you no doubt are aware, Monclova International has represented the source of direct employment for approximately 1,700 workers (a majority of whom are single mothers with sole-support responsibility for their families) and probably an equal number of indirect (informal) workers. For some time now, Hanesbrands (through Monclova International) has been one of the single largest employers in the community.

Unfortunately, it seems that many workers, as well as SEDEPAC, have little or no confidence in local management’s capacity to facilitate a responsible closure. To date, there has been no dialogue with the workers or the community and little transparency in the process, with contradictory information being released to the workers and the public. Recently we have received reports of legal violations on the part of your company. And certainly no one with whom we have contact has any confidence that Hanesbrands is willing to go beyond the legal minimum to provide much needed support to its workers and the community from whom it has profited for over a decade.

Attached you will find a proposal for dialogue and action: Monclova International: The Bottom Line on Responsible Closure – What workers and local and international labour rights groups expect from Hanesbrands in the closure of Monclova International in Coahuila, Mexico.

As the title suggests, the document sets out what we and our local partners see as the bottom line for a responsible closure.

  • Transparency and Dialogue (with workers and the local, national, and international communities);
  • Legal Compensation, particularly related to financial compensation obligations and work-related health issues (a long recurring and outstanding issue for Sara Lee / Hanesbrands); and
  • Corporate Social Responsibility. We understand that Hanesbrands has in the past, and purports in its corporate communication, to offer compensation beyond the legal minimum. We believe Mexican workers are as deserving as other workers in terms of compensation, training and alternative employment opportunities when factory closures take place. Unfortunately, at present it seems your company is not complying with even the minimum legal requirements.

We believe that Hanesbrands needs to take immediate and proactive steps to ensure that it is complying with all legal requirements, and to go beyond legal obligations and provide your Monclova workforce with additional compensation as well as training and employment assistance. 

SEDEPAC, MSN and other labour rights organizations are equally concerned about possible upcoming announcements of additional closures. Recent corporate announcements imply that Hanesbrands is planning to move additional production out of Mexico to its “lower-cost” Caribbean and Central American facilities. This new corporate strategy stands in stark contrast to the 1995 Sara Lee announcement that it would invest US$ 100 million in 1996 alone on its new facilities in Coahuila.

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.

We look forward to receiving a prompt response to our enclosed proposals for a responsible closure. Could you please be in touch with me within the next few days to discuss what your company might do to correct this unfortunate situation, and so that I can put you in direct communication with SEDEPAC. You can reach me through our Toronto office at 416-532-8584, or until Thursday morning through my Mexican cell number at [deleted].

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Yours truly,

Lynda Yanz, Coordinator
Maquila Solidarity Network

 

CC:
Kathy Frith, Director of Social Compliance, Americas, Hanesbrands, Inc.
Betty Robles, SEDEPAC
Scott Nova, Workers Rights Consortium (WRC)
David Shilling, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Ben Davis, AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, México
Peter Cervantes, ENLACE

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