Fired at Fruit of the Loom supplier

published 03-10-2013 14:16, last modified 10-10-2013 14:10
In Colombo, the Bratex factory produces underwear for Fruit of the Loom and Viania. Workers have been intimidated, and 31 trade union leaders have been arrested and fired after a legal strike in 2011, which broke out after management failed to respond to workers’ concerns about wages and freedom of association.

Bratex workers
Workers have been intimidated and 33 union leaders have been arrested and dismissed after a legal strike in 2011, which broke out after management failed to respond to workers’ concerns on wages and freedom of association.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) calls on Bratex management, and buyers Fruit of the Loom and Viania, to resolve the dispute in the factory, which has been ongoing for more than two years.

Bratex has yet to come to an agreement with the workers, meaning 31 workers remain without jobs, and workers' demands in relation to wages, bonuses and freedom of association have still not been met.

A year-long investigation by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), of which Fruit of the Loom is a member, has failed to produce any results. The Fair Labor Association is a so-called Multi-Stakeholder Initiative, with its headquarters in Washington DC.

The Clean Clothes Campaign did not draw the public's attention to this case in the first year, because CCC hoped that the FLA process and brand interventions would lead to a fair and just resolution. As there still has been no progress whatsoever after one and a half years, CCC has publicly called on all brands buying from the factory to take steps to ensure Bratex management:

  • reinstates all sacked workers with full back pay, pending the outcome of court cases
  • pay all workers' bonus arrears for 2010
  • develop and sign a memorandum of understanding with brands and the trade union FTZ&GSEU on freedom of association

An initial meeting between Fruit of the Loom, FLA and CCC to discuss a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) took place in October 2012, but by the end of the year a Memorandum had not been finalised.

See also:

Brands and management fail to resolve Bratex dispute

What do companies and Multi Stakeholder Initiaves think of the CCC? *

“CCC has been one of the defining influences on code of conduct over the last 10 years. Codes of conduct have moved from being a fringe idea to a central plank of single CSR policy in the industry. A large part of that is because CCC internationally have been a champion for the role of brands taking action... and have placed and kept the issue in the public domain.”

“CCC have had impact by raising our awareness, triggering the development of our code of conduct and our subsequent mechanisms on monitoring, disclosure practises, decision to join MSI, training and follow-up.”

“If there is a critical situation in a factory that we have not become aware of ourselves, we do of course react immediately, if this is brought to our attention by CCC.”

“All activities raise awareness but do not change policies, urgent appeals have most impact to improve or change the way of working with a supplier or improve a situation if needed.”

* Quotes from internal report that assesses how Clean Clothes Campaign's labour rights corporate accountability work, including the Urgent Appeal system, has impacted corporate behavior between 1994 and 2010.

Pins Brown, 2010. Impact Assessment of Corporate Accountability Activities of Clean Clothes Campaign. Unpublished report on file.