Nicaraguan Workers Gain Union Recognition at Chentex Garment Factory
Labor Alerts, 19 February 1998
The 2,000 workers at the Chentex Garment Factory in Managua's Las Mercedes Free Trade Zone held another day-long work stoppage on February 16th during which they received word that their union had been granted legal recognition by the Ministry of Labor. The workers were protesting the company's violation of the agreement reached at the end of their first stoppage on January 26th. This strike at the Taiwanese-owned factory was supported by the entire production workforce. The company had been firing workers and had formed a small committee of line supervisors who called themselves "the workers against the union." These supervisors were handing out leaflets claiming that the union leaders were accepting bribes and committing other treacherous acts.
As a result of the negotiations led by Garment and Textile Federation leader Pedro Ortega, a bi-partite commission with representatives from management and workers was formed to address the issues of mistreatment of workers. Now that the Chentex union has received its legal recognition, union officers are talking with all the workers in the factory to get their input for the set of demands that the union will take to collective bargaining talks with management.
In separate news, another union has just been organized in the Free Trade Zone, this time in the U.S.-owned Mil Colores Factory. Papers requesting legal recognition were submitted to the Labor Ministry late last week and word on recognition from Ministry officials was expected in less than the two week period established by law. Factory management, however, has fired three union leaders: Luis Rivas, Erasmo Ruiz and Isabel Cano Urbina. If they are not re-hired, the union may call for international solidarity support which has proved key to previous victories in the Free Trade Zone.
For more information, contact the Nicaragua Network: (202) 544-9355, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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