Garment workers at the Modelama garment factory in New Delhi, India, which supplies clothing to the Gap, organized to start a union in their factory. They would be the first garment factory in the New Delhi, India area to unionize. The management fired 16 workers for being union leaders.
This Thursday - Feb 28th, an Indian court will hear the case to recognize the union. It's urgent for us to send letters to Gap to let them know we are watching and want them to push Modelama to reinstate the workers.
February 24, 2013
Dear Ms. Kindley Walsh-Lawlor, Mr. Kapil Mathur and Mr. Pradeep Kumar,
I am writing with concern over garment workers in India. Leaders from our organization have just visited the Modelama workers in Gurgaon last weekend and spoke directly to workers who have been forced to resign. The detailed documentation and order of events, since the formation of the Modelama Workers Union (MWU) in December 2012, show that the right to freedom of association, in particular the right of Modelama workers to form and/or become member of a union of their choice without risking retaliation, has been violated. The dismissals and transfers have been accompanied by forceful pushing, illegal confinement, threats to family members, threats to file trumped up charges and other inappropriate behavior.
Gap's responses thus far suggest that you accept Modelama management’s refusal to engage on these issues other than in the office of the labor and conciliation officer. Clearly, thus far your response has not been able to mitigate the retaliation against the union members, nor been sufficient to prevent further retaliation from taking place. Under the UN guiding principles on business and human rights' obligation to do due diligence into any rights violations that take place in your supply chains, however, you are expected to take pro-active actions to mitigate the negative impact on human rights violations, and take measures to prevent them from happening again.
Therefore you are called upon to use your leverage with the business entity. We identify three urgent issues that need to be addressed:
1) reversing the chilling effect that the dismissals and transfers have on the trust that workers have in being allowed to form or join a union of their choice,
2) redress for the workers and union office-bearers that have been dismissed and transferred, and
3) starting a respectful practice of industrial relations between MWU and management, which includes the recognition of MWU representing its members by Modelama management.
MWU has demanded that Modelama management retract all the decisions of transfer and termination of workers immediately with back wages and continuity of service and recognize workers union in Modelama Exports. This action will address the first two urgent issues. In addition, by restoring to the situation as of the date of formation of the Modelama Workers Union in December 2012, i.e. by reinstating all dismissed and transferred union members since that date, a minimal condition for the third urgent issue is met.
Therefore we call upon Gap to immediately ensure that Modelama management:
1) cancels the transfers and dismissals of the 17 workers and union members,
2) agrees to a meeting between Gap, Modelama management and Modelama Workers Union to reach a (signed) agreement on the steps forward to ensure healthy industrial relations at Modelama.
I am looking forward to your swift response.