No Sweat: ROUND-UP

Submitted by Anon on 22 October, 2003 - 5:54
  • Capitalist globalisation: Haiti
  • Haitian factory life: Police and security guards attack workers
  • Sheffield No Sweat launch
  • Video showing in Leicester
  • No Sweat at the European Social Forum

Capitalist globalisation: Haiti

Levi's shuts North American plants, re-opens in Haiti

On 30 September Levi's jeans announced a $26.7 million quarterly profit - double its earnings from the same quarter a year ago. The company's sales were $1.08 billion, up from $1.02 billion last year.

However five days earlier Levi's shut three Canadian plants - two sewing facilities and a finishing centre in Ontario, leading to the loss of 1,180 jobs. The company is also shutting factories in Texas.

A company spokesperson said that production is being shifted overseas, a move necessary to "stay competitive".

In August, the first factory opened at a new free trade zone on the Maribahoux Plain, in north-east Haiti. Three hundred workers were hired to assemble Levi Strauss jeans in the first of three factories to be built by the Dominican company, Grupo M. This is the first phase of a larger "Haiti Zona Franca Project" on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The British solidarity organisation, the Haiti Support Group, has published a report on the situation at the free zone on the Maribahoux Plain. With information supplied by the Haitian organisation, Groupe d'Appui aux Rapatriés et Refugiés, the Haiti Support Group reported that the 300 employees in the Grupo M factory in the free zone have been forbidden to organise themselves or discuss politics. Within weeks of the first factory opening, twenty workers have been fired for asking for improved conditions.

Recently the World Bank met representatives of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The Bank told the unions that in future they would include core labour standards, including workers right to organise themselves, in loan agreements. The unions demanded that this right should be enforced in a pending $23 million loan agreement to help Grupo M develop its factories in Haiti. The Bank stated that the "Codes of Conduct" held by Grupo M's clients, including Levi Strauss, meant that this was not necessary.

Haitian factory life: Police and security guards attack workers

On 12 August workers at the South Korean-owned Willbes factory in the Shodecosa Industrial Park, Port-au-Prince, were beaten up and shot at by armed factory security guards and riot police. These violent attacks followed factory workers' attempts to stop security guards from beating up a worker who had demanded severance pay after being arbitrarily fired. During the course of the attacks several workers received gunshot wounds, many were beaten with police batons, and one worker who attempted to photograph what was happening was beaten unconscious and then detained overnight in the Cité Soleil police station.

Subsequently a factory manager has begun arbitrarily firing the workers involved.

More recently, the Batay Ouvriye workers' organisation reports that a female worker at the Willbes' garment assembly factory in the other Port-au-Prince industrial park, SONAPAI, has been beaten up by the factory supervisor, and then fired without any severance pay.

Please write letters of protest demanding an end to violent and abusive treatment of workers at the Willbes' garment assembly factories in Port-au-Prince, and calling for the full respect of workers' rights under Haitian and international law.

Sheffield No Sweat launch

By Sacha Ismail

Forty activists took part in the the dayschool organised by Sheffield No Sweat on Saturday 4 October. The event, held at and supported by Sheffield University Union of Students, featured both practical workshops and speakers including student union finance officer Chris Rusbridge, the Simon Jones Campaign, War on Want and No Sweat Secretary Mick Duncan, who had just returned from visiting the CAT workers' centre in Mexico (see centre pages).

There are plans to establish a No Sweat campaigning group in Sheffield University, as well as further action in the city itself.

Occupation! Harvard University Living Wage sit-in video

will be shown in Leicester at 7.30 on Monday 20 October at the Secular Hall, 75 Humberstone Gate

The video tells how students and workers together won victories for the living conditions of directly employed and subcontractor workers at Harvard University.

  • Details: 07771 533055

No Sweat at the European Social Forum

The European Social Forum takes place in Paris from 12-15 November. No Sweat will be there taking part in a seminar with the European Clean Clothes Campaign on corporations' "social responsibility", and we plan to host a debate on "strategies for the anti-capitalist movement". We also hope to have a rendezvous point for anyone who wants to meet up with us in Paris. Contact us for more details or look out on the website.

Twenty people attended a No Sweat meeting in Nottingham on Tuesday 7 October entitled "Solidarity not Sweatshops".

Speakers included Jasm Gafur from the Unemployed Union of Iraq. A solidarity appeal has been set up by the Campaign for Solidarity with Iraqi Workers. They can be contacted at cswi_03@hotmail.com or 07761 580157.

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