On March 8, International Women's Day, Carmelita Alonzo, a sewing machine operator at V.T. (Vitorio Tan) Fashion Image Inc, died at the Andres Bonifacio Memorial Hospital in Cavite, the Philippines, after 11 days in hospital.
According to a statement released by her co-workers at V.T. Fashion, "Carmelita was killed by her 14 hour workday every day plus overtime of eight hours every Sunday." (Philippine News Features, March 19, 1997).
The workers denounced the system of quotas set by the company which forced them to work 12 to 14 hours per day. According to the Workers Assistance Center in Rosario, Carmelita, a 35 year old mother of five, had died because of the strict regime in V.T. Fashion and its sister company, All Asia Garment Industries, which forces workers to obey a compulsory 14 hour shift.
Following her death, V.T.Fashion gave Carmelita's family 3000 pesos (US$120) as a donation.
V.T. Fashion is a Taiwanese invested garment factory located in the Cavite Export Processing Zone in Rosario, the Philippines.
The company started its operations in August, 1992, and produces skirts, jackets, dresses, short pants, vests, and blouses. The factory produces garments for the GAP, Guess, Jones New York, Eddie Bauer, May Co, Macy, Liz Clairborne, Ellen Tracy, Head, Benetton, Ruff Hewn, LeQ, Chachi, Ralph Lauren, and Banana Republic.
These garments are exported to USA, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, and China.
There are 1046 workers in the factory, 90% are women workers aged between 17-30.
Workers receive 155 pesos (US$5.96) as the daily minimum wage and are subjected to overtime. This wage is not enough to meet the living costs of workers and rising prices.
Workers are made to work from 7 am to 9 pm during weekdays, 7 am to 7 pm on Saturdays and 6 am to 2 pm on Sundays. Rest periods are usually an hour during lunch time and 30 minute in the afternoon.
Less than half of the workers are regular workers. Most are employed on 3 to 4 month 'apprenticeship' contracts or as contractual workers with employment contracts of only 5 months. Others are employed on 6 month contracts.
The company subcontracts work to some companies inside and outside the Export Processing Zone. During peak production work is subcontracted out to other companies and workers are fired for 3 to 6 months as apprentices and contractual workers.
The company has also established a new company called EQ. Workers on 6 month contracts at VT Fashion Image will be transferred to EQ when their contracts expire.
Presently, the company is busy hiring another group of contractual workers since it has terminated the services of those whose 5 month contracts have expired. The management makes sure that contractual workers do not reach 6 months of employment and always makes sure that there is a new group of workers ready to replace those whose contracts are expiring.
Contractual workers have no sick leave with pay or other benefits. Once the management discovers women workers who are pregnant they are fired immediately, even if their contract has not finished. Workers are easily dismissed and there is no union at VT Fashion Image.
For more information contact:
Asia Monitor Resource Center
email: email@example.com (attn. Gerard)
fax: 852 2385 5319
Send messages of solidarity care of:
Workers Assistance Center
c/o Most Holy Rosary Parish
Rosario, Cavite 4106