A Korean company's attempts to blackmail the government of Honduras were today branded as the "hallmark of incompetent management" by the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF). The attack was levelled against Yu Hwa, the Korean-owned maquila clothing factory operating in the Puerto Cortes Free Trade Zone, which, having sacked the workers' legitimate representatives and imposed a yellow union, then threatened to leave the country unless the authorities bowed to its demands for recognition of the company union.
Says Neil Kearney, ITGLWF General Secretary: "Yu Hwa's actions have made it an unacceptable business partner for any reputable retailer, an unacceptable investor in any self-respecting country and an unacceptable employer to workers anywhere. If Yu Hwa pulls out of Honduras, we shall call on all its customers to blacklist the company - regardless of where it runs to - and to work instead with reputable companies in Honduras who are committed to providing fair and reasonable wages and working conditions, to upholding the right to organise and bargain collectively, and to respecting local labour laws".
In a letter to the Korean Ambassador to Honduras, Kearney warned that Yu Hwa's behaviour is discrediting its country of origin and jeopardising Korea's application for membership to the OECD, whose guidelines for multinational companies ban such behaviour.
Kearney scoffed at the company's claims that the majority of workers had "voted for change": "The workers were offered a choice: either submit to the company's game, or lose their jobs with no holiday bonus", said Kearney, who strongly condemned the CGT for its support to the company and its yellow union. "The CGT is undermining trade unionism, endangering employment security and selling out the interests of Honduran workers. The only beneficiaries are the multinational investors who don't care about the country", he warned.
Concluded Kearney: "the government must stand up to Yu Hwa's bullying tactics and uphold the agreement signed in November between the governments of Honduras and the United States aimed at developing measures to ensure that the country is in compliance with the worker rights' provisions of the Generalised System of Preferences. The labour ministry should refuse Yu Hwa's petition for recognition of the yellow union and a temporary suspension of labour and should order that all sacked workers be immediately reinstatated with compensation for lost wages.
The Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation is an International Trade Secretariat which brings together 200 affiliates in 100 countries worldwide with a combined membership of over 7 million workers.
Ref: LC 1433 (v2)