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US brands disclose findings of investigation into alleged worker rights abuses at Mexican blue jean factory

October 19, 2007

An October 18 letter from three major US brands addressed to senior management of the Mexican blue jean manufacturer, Grupo Navarra, verifies worker allegations that the company has been harassing, dismissing and forcing them to sign resignation letters for attempting to form an independent union. The letter from American Eagle Outfitters, Gap Inc., and Warnaco, Inc. also confirms that at least some of the dismissed workers have been blacklisted.

Other worker rights violations listed in the letter that were uncovered in a factory investigation carried out at the companies’ request by the US-based monitoring organization, Verité, in August 2007 include:

  • Physical, psychological, sexual, and verbal harassment and abuse;
  • Threats of dismissal for union organizing, refusing overtime, and affiliating with labour rights NGOs;
  • Withholding wages owed, severance and other benefits from terminated workers that did not agree to sign resignation letters; and
  • Discrimination in hiring and dismissals based on pregnancy status, age, and union affiliation.

The letter, which was copied to MSN, requests an update from Grupo Navarra on the commitments it made to eliminate the worker rights violations. According to the letter, management had agreed to cease all harassment, abuse and discrimination, to respect the workers’ right to freedom of association, and to support and not interfere with a union representation vote (recuento).

According to MSN, management at the Vaqueros Navarra factory is continuing to harass, dismiss and pressure supporters of the independent union to sign resignation letters, and over 50 workers have been dismissed without cause in the last week.

On October 16, six US brands that have sourced from Grupo Navarra factories released another joint letter, calling on the Puebla State labour authorities to ensure that a union representation vote is held without further delay in an accessible and neutral location and in “a manner that gives workers the ability to register their preference without fear or intimidation.”

For more information, contact: Bob Jeffcott, MSN, 416-532-8584

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