Esprit called to join Levi in support of Malagasy 43

Esprit, a major international garment manufacturer, using the Port of Toamasina (Tamatave) in Madagascar is facing pressure to join with Levi Straus & Co and help end the exploitation of Madagascan dockworkers.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and local Madagascan union SYGMMA will launch the report, Esprit: End the double standards in your supply chain with actions at Esprit stores in Australia, United States, Indonesia, and Europe.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair said the union is seeking their intervention in a worsening dispute with the Madagascan Government and port operator ICTSI.

“Levi Strauss has demonstrated industry leadership and responded positively to the ITF when we briefed them on the situation in Madagascar. They have recognised the ‘hidden workforce” that forms part of their supply chain and been prepared to take concrete steps to support these workers.

“The ITF is challenging Esprit who use the port to step up and support a just resolution to this dispute.  International brands need to recognize that workers who move their products to market deserve to be treated fairly. Levi understood its’ customers expect an ethical supply chain - that includes dockworkers – Esprit must do the same,” Mr Crumlin said.

Background

Extract from Report;

Although their Supplier Code of Conduct specifies that it covers all parties in their supply chain, it continues to ignore the workers who are responsible for ensuring that Esprit products make it onto ships to be transported to stores around the globe. It is time these workers are afforded the same protections as workers who manufacture or finish their products. Esprit already considers transport when making decisions about how their goods travel from the factory to the store. They favour transport options that reduce their carbon footprint. Workers’ rights must also be included in this decision-making process…

The Government of Madagascar faces an International Labour Organisation (ILO) complaint over the dispute. These workers were sacked for fighting for better wages and against dangerous conditions. After joining their union, they faced intimidation and retaliation from management – who gave them two options: leave the union or lose their jobs.

The workers refused and were sacked, contravening their rights to freedom of association. None of the 43 workers have been reinstated. Most are struggling to survive.

The Supreme Court of Madagascar ruled that the workers should be re-instated but the Government has refused so far to enforce the decision.

For more information go to www.justicefordockworkers.org

The ICTSI operated Port of Toamasina is the main gateway for $360 million worth of textile products exported to Europe, $100 million to South Africa, and $60 million to the USA. Major international brands source clothing in Madagascar – including Esprit, Eddie Bauera, Camaieu and Levi Strauss.

About ITF

ITF is the international union federation representing around 700 transport unions, and more than 4.5 million transport workers from 150 countries. 

For more details please contact: ITF Sydney Campaign Office: Australia +61402399572 or mediasydney@itf.org.uk       

Copies of the report can be found here: https://www.justicefordockworkers.org/esprit#esprit-find-out-more