By Mick Duncan
In July workers at the Tarrant Ajalpan factory set up an independent union, SUITTAR (Sindicato Único Independiente de Trabajadores de la Empresa Tarrant México) following strike action in June.
Tarrant workers speak of regular forced overtime, unpaid work time, being locked in the factory, verbal and sexual abuse, anti-union reprisals such as placing the names of strikers on do-not-hire lists at other factories, and the aggressive denial of freedom of association.
Seven strike leaders have been victimised and, on 22 August 220 workers at this plant were illegally dismissed. News reports indicate that several hundred more have also been discharged from the other seven Tarrant facilities in Tehuacán.
On 27 August the workers protested at the offices of Puebla State Governor to demand that the company obey Mexican law, stop illegally dismissing workers and reinstate all who have been dismissed, and recognise the independent union. Their slogan was: "We are workers not beggars!"
From 20-25 August the independent US verification organisation, the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), went to Tehuacán to conduct research into labour and humans rights violations at the Tarrant México. Their report is due soon and will be available via the No Sweat web site.
The WRC have had a past success at the Kukdong factory in Atlixco, pressuring Nike and the factory ultimately to recognise the independent union and negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. Tarrant workers hope that the WRC's preliminary investigation will bring significant pressure to bear on the factory, the state government and especially brands such as Levi's which are sending their own monitors to Ajalpan to investigate Code of Conduct violations.
- You can help the workers protest.
Visit www.nosweat.org.uk and send a protest email
You can also donate to help the worker of the Puebla workers' centre, CAT, via the No Sweat web site.