T-shirt and fleece maker Gildan Activewear Inc has become first basic activewear apparel manufacturer to be accredited by the Fair Labor Association - a decision that marks a huge turnaround for the Montreal-based firm.

Nearly three years ago, the human rights group threatened to terminate Gildan's membership unless it met certain conditions and acknowledged restrictions that were placed on workers' rights to freedom of association.

The FLA has accredited only eight companies worldwide, the majority of which are consumer apparel brands which outsource their manufacturing.

Within this, Gildan is the only vertically-integrated basic activewear apparel manufacturer to receive accreditation.

"Gildan is committed to adhere to progressive employment practices in all of its manufacturing operations in Central America, the Caribbean Basin and North America," said Glenn J Chamandy, president and chief executive officer.