WRC Exposes Apparel Brands Stealing from the (Working) Poor



“Stealing from the Poor: Wage Theft in the Haitian Apparel Industry”

Last week the WRC released a report on the working conditions and prevalent wage theft in Haiti within the island nation’s garment industry. These findings, interviews, and analyses were completed with workers at factories in the Caracol Industrial Park outside of Cap-Haitien on the northern coast of Haiti. This report, titled “Stealing from the Poor: Wage Theft in the Haitian Apparel Industry,” has compelling statistics that we think anyone considering a purchase of Haitian Made products should take to heart. (You will not find any Anvil, Gildan, Hanes or Fruit of the Loom products on our site.)

*Note: “Average wages are even lower at the new Caracol Industrial Park despite the fact that the project was heavily subsidized by the United States government with earthquake recovery aid as a means of providing Haitian workers with a path out of poverty.” 

The Current Minimum Wage: 
“Law No. CL-09-2009-010 establishes a two-tier minimum wage for Haiti’s export sector. Set their production quotas or piece rates so that workers are able to earn a 300 HTG minimum wage in eight hours of work. In addition there is a lower tier or wage rate, of 200 HTG per day, which applies to those piece rate workers who are in training or in transition to new positions and non-piece rate workers.”
“[…]the majority of Haitian garment workers are being denied nearly a third of the wages they are legally due as a result of the factories’ theft of their income. Through in-depth interviews with garment workers and review of pay records, the WRC has determined that garment workers in Port-au-Prince, where more than 90% of the country’s garment factories are located, are paid, on average, 32% less than what they are owed under the country’s minimum wage and overtime laws.”

Regarding Gildan Activewear and Hanesbrand

“The factories included in this study manufacture garments for a broad range of brands and retailers that are representative of the major North American apparel firms sourcing from Haiti ‒ top t-shirt manufacturers like Gildan and Hanes, leading retailers like Gap and Walmart, makers of employee work uniforms, and companies that are apparel licensees of major U.S. universities and colleges.”[…] “The Premium and Genesis factories are suppliers to Gildan, the Canadian apparel firm that is the world’s largest manufacturer of t-shirts, and have been publicly disclosed as suppliers of apparel licensed by U.S. universities and colleges[…] GMC is a factory that produces for the U.S. apparel company, HanesBrands Inc., another top t-shirt manufacturer.”

Genesis and Premium are two of the factories audited and included in this most recent WRC report:

“Genesis is a factory that produces t-shirts for Gildan which are supplied to U.S. university licensees, and currently employs roughly 1160 workers. Workers employed at Genesis report that they are paid 6 HTG ($0.13) per box of six dozen t-shirts that their module produces. In order to reach the minimum wage of 300 HTG, workers must produce 3600 t-shirts in a single eight hour shift, which workers report is impossible to do, and as a result workers’ wages fall significantly short of the minimum wage due to this unrealistically high production quota.”[…] “Premium employs 1,114 workers who also produce t-shirts for Gildan which are supplied to U.S. university licensees, and are paid the same piece rates that prevail at Genesis.”

The Mission of Worker Rights Consortium

The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent labor rights monitoring organization, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe. Its purpose is to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who make apparel and other products.

“The WRC conducts independent, in-depth investigations; issues public reports on factories producing for major brands; and aids workers at these factories in their efforts to end labor abuses and defend their workplace rights. The WRC is proud to have the support of over 175 college and university affiliates and our primary focus is the labor practices of factories that make university-related apparel.”

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