Workers cheated out of severance as Rintex closes factory

Workers and supporters protesting unjust dismissals, 2018

Three years after worker rights violations were first reported by labour rights advocates to Gap and other brand buyers, their Morelos-based supplier closed the factory rather than reinstate workers fired who had been attempting to form an independent union. The last remaining workers were dismissed in December 2018. 

MSN estimates that workers dismissed in the summer of 2018 were short-changed by a total of approximately US$34,000 in severance, and workers who were dismissed over the next six months, by at least $1,000 each per year of service for a total of about $60,000. Meanwhile, many of the workers who found alternative employment are reportedly making lower wages in even more precarious conditions.

The closure came six months after the company’s principal, and only remaining international brand client, GAP Inc., announced that it would be ending its business relationship at the end of 2018 because of Rintex’s persistent refusal to take adequate corrective action to remediate serious worker rights violations.

Those violations had been verified in three audits carried out by Verité, an independent social auditing organization. Verité’s final assessment, which took place in July 2018, had confirmed egregious violations of freedom of association, including the firing of over 50 workers involved in the organizing drive for an independent union.

The Rintex case raises serious questions of how to ensure that the rights of Mexican garment workers producing for international brands are respected when employers are prepared to close a factory and sacrifice a long-term business relationship with a major client rather than accept an independent union.

It underlines the importance of genuine labour justice reform in Mexico and rigorous enforcement of legislation recently approved by the Mexican Congress that promises to deliver greater respect for the right of workers to freedom of association and to bargain collectively.

Click here for a summary of the Rintex story.