Latest news on campaigns to support garment assembly workers employed in sweatshops run by South Korean and Dominican companies

Issued by the Haiti Support Group on 25 November 2003

For background, please see the Haiti Support Group’s Campaign in support of new unions and workers’ organisations:

1. Willbes Haitian SA—Port-au-Prince

In September 2003, the Haiti Support Group joined the Batay Ouvriye workers’ organisation in condemning serious acts of aggression against workers in the Port-au-Prince garment assembly factories operated by the South Korean Willbes Company. In letters to both the parent company, Willbes & Co, in South Korea, and to the Haitian Manufacturers’ Association, of which Willbes Haitian SA is a member, the Haiti Support Group raised particular concerns about the incidents on 12 August when workers at the Willbes Haitian SA factory No. 5 in the Shodecosa Industrial Park were beaten up and shot at by armed factory security guards and riot police. Subsequently a new factory manager at Shodecosa Factory No. 5 began arbitrarily firing the workers involved.

Despite a large number of protest emails and letters sent by the Haiti Support Group and by individuals alerted to our call for action, neither Willbes & Co. in South Korea nor Marie-Claude Bayard, president of the Haitian Manufacturers’ Association (Association des Industries d’Ha├»ti), have seen fit to issue a reply to calls for an end to the abuse of workers.

In mid-November, the Haiti Support Group received the following news from the Batay Ouvriye organisation concerning the situation at the Willbes Haitian SA Shodecosa Factory No.5: Workers continued to be fired regularly—it seems management is attempting to change everyone who was present the day of the events (12 August).

The Haiti Support Group has now written to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to request solidarity action in support of Haitian workers.