420 textile workers unpaid by private bank
From 420 former workers of Velcas International in the Free Trade Zone, 28 August 1997
The company Velcas International started operations in the Free Trade Zone in 1991 with national capital, producing blue jeans and exporting them to the US, creating 500 jobs. Since 1993, the company started to accumulate debts with the Private Bank INTERBANK.
After taking the former owners of the company to court, the judge ruled the company to be intervened by INTERBANK as a result of the debts of the company with this bank. On June 1997, the judge ruled again in favour of the bank. We want to stress that during the three years that the bank was in control of the company this was working, producing on the basis of contracts reached by INTERBANK with US buyers.
On June 1997 INTERBANK, following a court decision auctioned the assets of Velcas company, but there were no buyers. On August 26 INTERBANK rented (with option to buy) the assests of the Velcas company to the US investor SAMUEL MILLER. On the same day, the workers found the gates shut and were sent back home. Then a workers committe was formed to go and talk to the Labour Ministry and the bank. A compromise was reached that the new owner would hire all workers again.
But on wednesday, August 27, 20 women workers were refused by the new company, all of them leaders of the movement to force INTERBANK to pay the workers the indemnisations they are entitled to by law. Also workers over 40 years of age were refused making it very difficult for them to find any other jobs in the free trade zone. Four pregnant women workers were also denied jobs.
THEREFORE WE DEMAND INTERBANK:
The payement of indemnisations according to article 45 of Nicaragua's Labour Code
The payement of holidays and the 13th monthly pay as established by law
The recognition that the workers were working for the bank
AND TO THE NEW INVESTOR:
The recognition that he was aware of the situation in the company as he was buying the production. If he had been an honest person HE WOULD HAVE NEVER RENTED THE COMPANY FROM THE BANK until the INTERBANK had paid all money owed to the workers.
The closure of the company is illegal as the required forms were not filled in the Labour Ministry and no court authorisation was seeked for it. But in this country JUSTICE IS ONLY FOR THOSE WITH MONEY AND NOT FOR THE POOR.
We appeal for solidarity with the 420 workers and demand the PRIVATE BANK INTERNAK MUST PAY ALL INDEMNISATIONS ESTABLISHED BY LAW
SEND MESSAGES OF PROTEST TO:
Free Trade Zone Corporation
and to SAMUEL MILLER (the new owner) asking him to put pressure on the
bank to fulfil its legal duties:
La Red Obrera/Labournet