Date: Wed, 29 Mar 1995 18:53:13 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
Subject: El Salvador: Labor Council Denounced
Topic: Salvador FTZ Denounced
Written 7:09 PM Mar 20, 1995 by lvpsf in cdp:labr.global
From: Labor Video Project <lvpsf>
Written 1:42 PM Mar 15, 1995 by nicarao:izote in igc:reg.elsalvador
From now on labor issues will be analyzed and discussed thoroughly.
Salvadoran President, Armando Calderon Sol. (17)
This new institution is not going to solve anything.
Ernesto Vilanova, CONAPES President. (18)
Salvadoran President Calderon Sol swore in the members of the Superior Labor Council (CST) which was created by the Socio-Economic Forum. The council will be formed by the private sector: the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chamber of Construction, ANEP, ASI, CONAPES, PROCANA, UCRAPROVEZ, and AMPES; by the labor groups: FESICONSTRANS, FESTRAES, FEASIES, FENASTRAS, FESTIAVTCES, CD-FESINTRABS, CD-CGS; and by the government institutions: Salvadoran Institute for Professional Training (ISFP), Social Housing Fund (FSV) and the representation of four other ministries. In his speech Calderon Sol said, "from now on labor issues will be analyzed and discussed thoroughly." (18)
However, as Ernesto Vilanova of CONAPES pointed out, the CST is doomed with bad omens. According to him, "none of the economics of the country have been discussed," and only the Work Code has been touched within the social aspects. "The economy" is hurting Salvadorans, says Vilanova and therefore "this new institution is not going to solve anything." (19) Likewise, UNTS General Coordinator, Julio Garcia Prieto criticized the CST. "It cannot deal with topics of national interest," because it is a consultive group that meets twice a year and will only delay the real search for solutions to labor problems. (20)
"Behind the labor problems there exists a campaign of North American union workers who are trying to destabilize the maquiladoras."
Francisco Escobar Thompson, President of the Salvadoran Association for the Ready-Made Clothing Industry (ASIC). (21)
During his first speeches after being elected president, President Calderon Sol promised that he would turn El Salvador into one big zone franca (free trade zone). Now, nine months later the maquiladoras have proliferated mainly in the suburban areas of San Salvador and according to the president, the factories have provided jobs for 65,000 people. (22)
This week both the government and labor groups have expressed their opinions about the impunity with which the foreign maquiladoras operate in El Salvador. According to the leader of the Democratic Labor Sector (SLD), Jesus Perez Marroquin the Superior Labor Council should study the legal situation of these enterprises. He questioned whether "the constitution says that they, as a free trade zone, constitute a territory apart from El Salvador. If not, then the Assembly has to be asked whether they can divide the nation in order to give privileges that are not contained within the laws of the constitution." (23) These declarations are based on the violation of Salvadoran labor codes by foreign companies. For many people, these violations have become very evident, especially after the death of one worker was reported. ISSS Director, Maria Julia Castillo lamented the death of a worker from a maquiladora in San Marcos that was supposedly caused by the negligence of a supervisor who would not give the worker permission to see a doctor. (24)
According to President Calderon Sol the problems in the maquiladoras are being created by groups who follow the interests of the United States. He said Salvadorans should protect their sources of work and be "very careful." In addition, he asked workers to "be prudent" so that they cannot be "manipulated" by outside forces to take action, because they should always "protect their jobs." Finally, Calderon Sol stated that they are investigating who is instigating workers in the maquiladoras. (25)
President of the Salvadoran Association for the Ready-Made Clothing Industry (ASIC), Francisco Escobar Thompson agreed with the president and added that "behind the labor problems there exists a campaign of North American union workers who are trying to destabilize the maquiladoras" and they are using the AFL-CIO as their base. (26) Escobar Thompson said that proof of this are the constant occupations of clothing factories in the Asian maquiladoras that are located in the suburban areas of San Salvador. (27)
Nevertheless, FMLN Deputy, Humberto Centeno said that the accusations of foreign manipulation in the free trade zones is just an excuse so that they can hide the real problems that workers face in the maquiladoras. He stated that although El Salvador has a "beautiful" political constitution and an advanced labor code unfortunately, it has "an obsolete Labor Ministry with some inspectors that forget to include violations in their reports for a small bribe." (28)
The Vice Minister of Labor, Daniel Eloy Gomez affirmed that his ministry is doing all it can to make sure that the maquiladoras comply with work codes. He agreed that there are human rights violations and abuse committed against workers in the maquiladoras, but "unfortunately, when the inspectors investigate they do not find any irregularities." Furthermore, he affirmed that he is not trying to defend or attack any particular enterprise. (29)
Copyright 1995. Fundacion Flor de Izote. This Publication may only be printed on condition that Fundacion Flor de Izote is cited as the source.
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