Gildan announced at the beginning of April 2017 that it would cut 350 workers in the STAR factory in Honduras, where the SITRASTAR trade union has represented workers since 2008. The union and management were about to negotiate their 5th Collective Bargaining Agreement by the end of 2017. The brand ANVIL owns STAR, it was purchased in 2013 by GILDAN and more recently in February 2017, GILDAN announced the purchase of the company American Apparel. GILDAN's financial reports have shown sustained and growing growth in sales and profits including operations in Honduras.
The union, from the outset, pointed out that the real intention is to make the Collective Bargaining Agreement more flexible and less comprehensive, and even to destroy the union which has achieved important benefits for workers. SITRASTAR appealed to the International Union League for Brand Responsibility, which includes SITRAJERZEES-ND in Honduras, FEDOTRAZONAS in the Dominican Republic, and in SITRASACOSI El Salvador. They all developed a series of actions and lobbying efforts coordinating with the Union League, USAS, MSN as well as Batay Ouvriye in Haiti, who simultaneously faced a strike and strong tensions at GILDAN factories in their country.
STAR produced sportswear for ADIDAS and NIKE for many years. Both brands argued that they did not control GILDAN's production decisions but pledged to make it reflect and examine the options. After the days of action on July 22 and 29, GILDAN announced that it had only dismissed 120 workers, some who left voluntarily, relocated some to another factory in Villa Nueva or dismissed them with all of the benefits legally owed to them.
However, GILDAN seems to be developing another strategy, SITRASTAR is now reporting that the managers are using a group of workers controlled by the bosses to try to take over the union leadership. The leaders of this group under employer control have economic support and are using violence and threats to achieve their goals. On September 26, 2017, the Secretary General of SITRASTAR was threatened with death in order to try to prevent them from distributing a union leaflet.
SITRASTAR has requested that we pay attention for updates on the situation and be prepared to support them when needed!