Sunday, June 3, 2007

Phone update

Angelina talked with our primary contact at SitraCima. Here are some updates she wrote up and emailed out.


Here are the details of what's up with them:
1. The union has committed to staying in the factory at all times, including these overnight sleeping shifts, until every last worker receives her severance pay as promised. They have been sleeping in the factory every night since May 14.

2. Aside from all the prior history, there are reasons to suspect bad faith on the part of management. As everyone who's met with the women in Guate will remember them explaining, one of the ways management has opposed the union in the past is by buying off some workers to be loyal to them and criticize the union, so as a result of this at various times there have been groups of workers who opposed the union within the factory. These groups were reactivated this past week. The union leaders and management were in negotiations midweek, but then the union leaders said they could not definitively agree to everything in the agreement until they'd presented the plan to the General Assembly of their membership today (Saturday) for a vote. Between the time the deal was struck and today, the Chief of Personnel went and told the workers in their anti-union groups that he himself had achieved all these things in one day, and that the union was going to claim it had been in some "negotiations" but that was all a lie, this was his proposal. These rumors spread quickly in the factory, and (this part I don't quite understand) workers in these anti-union groups filed a complaint against the union in the Labor Inspectorate. So now four Labor Inspectors are coming out on Monday to inspect the union to find out about its alleged misdeeds. (?)

3. Some of these ani-union workers have been threatening our contact, the SitraCima leader. Everyone knows they work closely with management, but management has been careful not to themselves threaten her. At least this week. More commonly, she is insulted, sometimes really grossly, but sometimes the comments are threatening.

4. The union had approx 150 members prior to this crisis and now has 60.

5. Our contact emphasized that it was very important to the women in the union that they were not only fighting for their wages, jobs, etc. but also for their dignity. It offends them very deeply that management would attempt to justify their dismissal by saying they do poor quality work. They are proud of the work they do and want to be treated with respect. It's about that as much as it is about economics.

6. There is still supposedly no work to be done in Cimatextiles, but according to the workers all that work has now just shifted over to Choishin, where they've added on a night shift (and brought in workers from other factories) to handle all the additional work. The night shift works from 7 pm to 5 am.


The above was written by Dr. Angelina Godoy, from a phone conversation with our contact at SitraCima, and posted by Travis.

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The workers at the Guatemalan factory CimaTextiles formed a union in 2001. They won a collective bargaining agreement in 2003, and since then have struggled to protect their gains. The corporation which owns the factory, Choi & Shin Co., Inc., consistently tries to break the union's back, and has since its inception. etc. etc. Here is the union's wiki. Here are the pictures from the protest. Here is the urgent action.

This section is under construction. Thank you for your patience.