Mexican workers take on the big brands

Submitted by Janine on 15 April, 2003 - 9:11

Workers in Matamoros Garments in Puebla, Mexico, are paid poverty wages for making expensive products for transnational sportswear giants like Puma. Workers took strike action in January to raise pay rates from (illegally low) $3.90 per day. The workers also objected to forced overtime, abuse from managers, disgusting food in the cafeteria and denial of union rights.
Puma, the German-owned giant, a major contractor at the factory, heard about the dispute and panicked at a mounting wave of international support for the workers. They can cancelled their orders, fearing accusations of using sweated labour (which they were quite happy to use as long as no-one in the US or Europe noticed).

There has been a massive international campaign to support the new union, SITEMAG, which the workers have set up.

In Britain the protests have been led by No Sweat and have included email campaigns against Puma management and a carnival in the streets outside the Puma store in London’s Carnaby Street.

Despite some initial gains the factory is in danger of closing (and so breaking the new union).

For more information, and details of what you can do, see the No Sweat web site:
www.nosweat.org.uk

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