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Unionists harassed in textile sector
ICFTU Online..., 9 January 1998
Brussels, October 21 (ICFTU OnLine): Trade unionists working in the Empresa Cool Dragados, a textile factory in Panama City, who were protesting in September over unpaid wages and their employer's failure to contribute to the social security, continue to be harassed by the authorities acting in connivence with the factory owners.
On September 12, 17 workers were arrested by police as they staged a demonstration in front of the factory gates. They were accused by their employer of having stolen 60,000 dollars from the company during their protest and were forced to take their clothes off in the police station where their cases was registered. The charges, which later included the alleged theft of a golden chain from the factory's secretary, later proved unsubstantiated, and 16 of the 17 workers were released. Marcos Allen, a member of Panama's workers' federation, an affiliate of the national centre CNTRP, has, however, been kept in jail. He is accused of libel for words allegedly pronounced during a dispute two years ago and will have to appear in court. The workers' accusation that the company was exploiting clandestine migrant workers, has not been investigated by the police. The ICFTU and its regional organisation for the Americas, ORIT, have both sent a strong protest to Panama's President Ernesto Perez Balladares denouncing collusion between police and the employer and calling for the immediate release of Marcos Allen. For more details please contact: ICFTU Trade Union Rights Department at:++32 2 224 02 07; or ORIT at:++502 574 93 13. Other OnLine news on Poptel Bulletin Board ICFTU-Online for geonet users and on the WWW at: http://www.poptel.org.uk/cgi-bin/bb2web/GEO2:ICFTU-ONLINE