GP Garments V ITGLWF

Overview

NCP Decision Accepted
Current Status Closed
Date Submitted 09/06/2005
Date Closed 01/10/2007
Case Duration 120 weeks and 4 days
Host Country Bangladesh  (Non-adhering country)
Issue(s) Freedom of association; dismissals of striking workers; refusal to disclose ownership or structure; threat to close factory
Provisions Cited III.1  III.2  III.3  III.4-a  III.5-a  III.5-b  III.5-c  IV.1-a  IV.2-a  IV.2-b  IV.2-c  IV.6  IV.7  IV.8   
Case Description In June 2005, the ITGLWF raised a case with the Belgian NCP regarding violations of the Guidelines in the Biyagama Free Trade Zone in Sri Lanka by the Belgian-controlled company GP Garments. The company refused to disclose its ownership and structure in accordance with the Chapter III of the Guidelines, Disclosure, which made it impossible for the union to engage in a meaningful discussion with the company.

In January 2005, the union was informed that the Biyagama factory would be re-rganised. This process however took place without any social dialogue. The management threatened to close the company if it could not impose the changes unilaterally. As the conflict escalated, workers were threatened and harassed. At the beginning of April, an agreement was reached following the intervention of the Ministry of Industries of Sri Lanka. Afterwards GP Garments claimed that the local manager had been coerced into entering the agreement. Later that month, a new agreement was reached in presence of the Commissioner of Labour. A few days later, however, GP Garments sent out letters of termination to the workers. Furthermore, the Board of Investment was informed that GP Garments would reopen the factory without re-instating the 480 workers whose contracts were terminated.

Developments At the beginning of September 2005, the NCP organised a meeting with the parties concerned. With regard to the complexity of the issues raised, the NCP decided in April 2006 to appoint an independent expert to mediate between the ITGLWF and GP Garments.
Outcome The mediation failed for the following reasons: GP Garments did not respect fixed dates to meet, an international investigation by the ILO coincided with the mediation process and the company did not consider that a solution would be found by the NCP. In its statement, the NCP called on the company to respect the Guidelines.

Organisations

Lead NCP Belgium NCP : Tripartite (involving several government departments and the social partners) 

Companies

Multinational Company GP Garments

Complainants

Lead Complainant International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation : Global Union Federation 

TUAC Analysis

Did the NCP publish its initial assessment? status-icon
Did the case involve parallel proceedings? status-icon
Was the existence of parallel proceedings an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Was the businsess relationship other than that of a subsidiary? status-icon
Was the nature of the business relationship an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its acceptance of this case? status-icon
Did the NCP offer mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the company accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the complainant(s) accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation held? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation conducted by a professional mediator? status-icon
Did the parties reach agreement? status-icon
If yes, did the NCP publish this agreement following the consent of the parties? status-icon
If mediation was refused or failed did the NCP make an assessment of whether the company had breached the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP conduct in-host country fact finding? status-icon
Did the NCP make recommendations to the company on the future implementation of the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP publish its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP provide for follow-up of the agreement/recommendations? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP inform public pension funds about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP apply any consequences in this case? status-icon
Did the NCP follow the indicative timescales set out in the procedural guidance? status-icon
Was there a positive outcome for the workers involved in this case? status-icon
Did the filing of the case under the Guidelines have a positive impact for the workers involved? status-icon
Did the lead NCP play a positive role? status-icon
If different, did the home NCP play a positive role? status-icon

Implications

Lack of cooperation of the company to engage in the mediation process. The investment relationship is not clear - and indeed the lack of information on ownership is part of the case. But this was not an obstacle.