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Independent Monitoring Established in El Salvador

May 3, 1996  |  Share

May 3, 1996

The Mandarin International factory in El Salvador becomes the first offshore maquila assembly plant producing for export to the North American market to open its doors to independent human rights organizations to monitor compliance with fundamental human and worker rights protections. In the past, Mandarin International worked under contract for GAP, Eddie Bauer, J.C. Penney, J. Crew, Casual Corner and Liz Claiborne.

The agreement signed in El Salvador on March 22, 1996 by the Mandarin company and the local human rights organizations also calls for the rehiring of fired unionists and other workers dismissed during a lengthy labor-management dispute over working conditions in 1995.

The Independent Monitoring group in El Salvador which will observe conditions at the Mandarin factory is comprised of:

* The Jesuit University of Central America (UCA) Human Rights Department
* The Catholic Archdiocese Human Rights Office, Tutela Legal
* The Center for Labor Studies (CENTRA)

The recent breakthrough in El Salvador grew out of a December 15, 1995 agreement between the National Labor Committee and the GAP, whereby the GAP committed itself to establishing third party independent monitoring in its contractors' plants in Central America. The GAP is the first U.S. retailer to commit itself to independent monitoring.

Bringing the independent monitoring project into reality in El Salvador was the result of weeks of research, discussion, negotiations and teamwork among the National Labor Committee, the GAP, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, Business for Social Responsibility, and in El Salvador with the Jesuit University, the Archdiocese Human Rights Office, the Center for Labor Research, the fired Mandarin union workers and the Mandarin International company. This has been a truly collaborative joint effort.

The National Labor Committee sees this as a significant achievement for the people of El Salvador and the U.S. Guaranteeing respect for human and workers' rights is good for everyone.

Now that monitoring is in place and the fired workers will be reinstated, the GAP is restoring its orders to Mandarin. The other organizations involved in implementing the monitoring agreement have also committed themselves to calling upon other companies, such as Eddie Bauer, to now also restore their orders to the Mandarin plant.

The National Labor Committee and the GAP, along with ICCR and BSR will now begin the process of establishing independent monitoring in Honduras.

According to Charles Kernaghan, Director of the National Labor Committee, "What has happened at the Mandarin plant will soon be looked upon as one of those turning points for the industry and for the protection of human rights. Mandarin becomes the first maquiladora factory anywhere in the world in which there is a program of monitoring by independent human rights organizations. Independent monitoring is now a concrete reality in operation on the ground in El Salvador. This gives us a model and the experience to extend independent monitoring to other countries and industries. I fully expect other companies to soon follow the GAP's example and lead in this effort. Surely, there is a very clear interest on the part of the U.S. and Canadian people in instituting monitoring to improve human rights conditions. This breakthrough demonstrates that when concerned consumers work with a company like the GAP, together we can change how the industry operates. Independent monitoring will raise working standards around the world, and help end the current race to the bottom."



Translation: Mandarin/SETMI worker union agreement

El Salvador 3/22/1996

March 22, 1996

The goal of this resolution is to resolve the current impasse so that we can focus on employer-employee relations in the Mandarin International factory. We believe that the principles and ideas in this resolution will lead us to create a productive, stable and prosperous business.

The undersigned commit themselves to the following:

  1. That the six ex-leaders of SETMI will be the first persons to be hired by Mandarin International when the company receives sufficient orders to do it. The parties commit to assuring that Mandarin International have sufficient work orders before May 1, 1996. The Monitoring Group will evaluate the situation. If it concludes that Mandarin International has not received sufficient orders to hire the six by the 1st of May, the Monitoring Group will propose a new date.
  2. When there is need to hire new personnel because sufficient new work orders have been obtained, the first workers to be hired will come from the list of the 250 and/or 400 workers who stopped working for Mandarin International during the 1995-1996 period and desire to return. After rehiring those persons on the list mentioned who have expressed the desire to return, Mandarin International will proceed to contract other persons.
  3. The Independent Monitoring Group will be constituted by representatives of the Secretary of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, Tutela Legal, IDHUCA and CENTRA with the purpose of assuring that the parties involved comply, firstly with Salvadoran Laws and secondly with GAP's Code of Conduct.

The monitoring group will be able to begin its work immediately.

It gains success with this resolution, the signers commit, in addition to:

  1. Maintain peace and harmony among the workers
  2. Maintain the employer-employee peace that exists
  3. The monitoring group should contact and promote aggressively the producers as well as the distributors of clothing so the Mandarin International directly receive work orders. This would help to demonstrate that this resolution as well as the Monitoring Group functions.


David Wang
Mandarin International 
David Blanchard
Archdiocese of San Salvador 
Hector Bernabe Recinos
Maria Julia Hernandez
Tutela Legal 
Benjamin Cuellar
For the workers:
Lucia Alvarado Partan
General Secretary
Association of Workers of
The Mandarin International 
Company, SA (ATEMISA) 
Eliseo Castro Perez
For the leaders of SETMI



1995 GAP Campaign Page

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