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Date: Mon, 24 Aug 98 12:09:44 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #447, 8/23/98
Article: 41775
To: undisclosed-recipients:;;@chumbly.math.missouri.edu
Message-ID: <bulk.24024.19980825181614@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** reg.nicaragua: 51.0 **/
** Topic: Weekly News Update #447, 8/23/98 **
** Written 9:02 PM Aug 23, 1998 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **

Maquila Workers Unionize in Haiti

Weekly News Update on the Americas, issue #447, 23 August 1998

On Aug. 10, workers at the Megatex maquiladora in Haiti initiated the official process to have their union certified. As part of the process the union sent Megatex owner Michel Liautaud a letter listing the entire union executive committee--a risky move in dealing with a management that just three weeks earlier had fired workers suspected of union connections [see Update #444]. Liautaud responded with an offer to meet after work on Aug. 20.

The workers' organization Batay Ouvriye (Workers' Struggle) considers the offer to talk an important step. Both Megatex and the Haitian Ministry of Social Affairs are probably interested in avoiding negative publicity. Liautaud is a major force behind Assembly Industries of Haiti (IDAH), a trade association which came out with a code of conduct last fall calling for IDAH members to facilitate within their respective companies the activities of all legally constituted associations, and to make available to them adequate bill-posting space. To never dismiss a worker because of his/her affiliation with a workers' union, or for any arbitrary reason. Megatex is a subcontractor for Disney, Kmart and other US firms.

Batay Ouvriye says that a victory at Megatex could be an opening for organizing throughout the Port-au-Prince assembly-for-export sector. It is asking supporters to send a letter to Disney CEO Michael Eisner to call for good-faith negotiations; the text of the letter is available from Campaign for Labor Rights (541- 344-5410, <CLR@igc.apc.org>) and Disney/Haiti Justice Campaign <Kapab@aol.com). [Labor Alerts 8/20/98, with information from Batay Ouvriye and Disney/Haiti Justice Campaign]