Salvadoran unions and allies call on brands to ensure full Severance for APS workers

Photo: Former APS workers call on Specialized to
#PayYourWorkers (#PYW).

Photo: Action at a cycling event to call on
Specialized to #PayYourWorkers (#PYW).

Salvadoran unions, MSN and other international labour rights organizations are calling on Specialized Bicycle Components and Hanesbrands to make financial contributions to remedy a year-and-a-half-long wage theft case from the APS El Salvador factory.

The APS factory officially closed on August 30, 2022. According to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), APS and its Chinese parent company that no longer exist, failed to pay the 831 workers their back wages, severance, and other terminal compensation as required by Salvadoran law. According to calculations by the Salvadoran Ministry of Labour, the former workers were owed approximately US$2 million.

The WRC determined that the factory was producing for numerous international brands and manufacturers, including Specialized, Hanesbrands (for the Champion brand), Gildan Activewear, and Kellwood Company, with the latter accounting for the majority of production.  

As international brands are increasingly being held accountable for wage and severance theft and other labour rights violations in their supplier factories, the WRC tried to engage with all the involved brands and manufacturers to remedy the violations.  

By March 2024, after eight months of difficult negotiations, Kellwood, the buying agent Alwants, and Gildan had agreed to provide “humanitarian contributions” totaling US$1.34 million or about 67% of what the former workers are owed.

According to the WRC, despite their best efforts to engage with the remaining buyers, Hanesbrands has not yet offered a “meaningful” contribution and Specialized has not responded to communications from the WRC or unions representing APS workers, leaving the former workers without much recourse for the remaining US$659,000 that they are legally owed (approximately 33% of the total).  

MSN has joined with our Salvadoran and international labour partners in calling on Specialized and Hanesbrands to make sufficient financial contributions to ensure that the workers who made their clothes are paid what they are legally owed.

The Clean Clothes Campaign, an international coalition in which MSN is a member, and CCC partner organizations in the US organized public actions targeting Specialized during international cycling events, including the amateur Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour des Flandres in Belgium, and the League of American Bicyclists' National Bike Summit in Washington, DC.

The wage and severance theft in this case has caused the laid off workers significant hardship. Many have been unable to pay for basic needs like housing, utilities, school fees, and food:

  • “We need these payments to feed our children, and also for the education of our children… It’s very difficult for those of us who are older than 45 to get a steady job. If we got the severance that’s owed to us, we could afford to feed ourselves.” - Irma Elizabeth
  • “When I worked at APS I could pay for my house. Now I can’t pay for it… They’re close to taking my house away from me.” - Maria Noemi

According to Marta Zaldaña, General Secretary of the Salvadoran union federation FEASIES, companies like Specialized “haven’t lived up to their responsibility to the APS workers who worked for so many years to generate their profits.”

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