In rare move, over 1,000 Haiti garment workers to share $1M payout a year after factory closed

Francis Akhalbey February 09, 2023
Haiti's garment industry has taken a nosedive because of increasing violence -- Photo Credit: Phan Minh Tuấn

PVH Corp., the American company that owns the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein clothing lines, agreed to pay $1 million to over 1,100 garment workers in Haiti after they lost their jobs because of a factory closure.

Prior to its closure, Haiti’s Vald’or factory was rendering services to many brands including PVH, The Guardian reported. But the garment industry in the Caribbean nation has taken a nosedive because of increasing violence. This has also reportedly taken a toll on shipments and sliding orders from brands in North America. Vald’or closed a year ago.

The former Vald’or workers will share the compensation PVH has agreed to pay. The money will take care of missed severance pay as well as their direct pension contributions and government pension fund. The compensation was agreed upon with the help of the Worker Rights Consortium lobby group.

Owned by a company in the United States, Vald’or was contracted by Centric – PVH’s licensee – to make clothes for them. PVH’s decision to intervene and compensate the affected garment workers is said to be something that is seldom done by owners of large fashion brands.

The majority of the former Vald’or workers will receive more than 6 months’ pay. Others are also entitled to more than a year’s pay, The Guardian reported. Some of the former workers intend to use the funds to open businesses while others want to help their families. A former worker who was paid the compensation said he has been without a job after the factory ceased operations.

“It is very difficult to get a new job. I haven’t got one and many of the workers are still searching,” he said. “I felt very angry and frustrated [when the factory closed]. I had been working there more than four years and the company just let us go without any compensation.”

The decision to compensate the workers was quickly reached without any dragging pressure from the public. The speed at which the agreement was reached is also said to be one of the first of such nature. 

“As social responsibility and ethical behaviour in the global fashion and apparel industry is inseparable from our values, PVH is committed to being part of the solution, even if we bear no direct responsibility,” a PVH spokesperson said. 

“We, together with Centric, believe it was the right thing to do to share in the commitment of supporting the affected workers, especially given the current context in Haiti. We are pleased that we were able to provide financial restitution for the affected workers in Val D’or Haiti and participate in a comprehensive resolution to this unfortunate situation.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 9, 2023


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