Archive: Urgent Appeals 2005-2011
In February 2006, garment workers at the Dutch-Turkish-owned Metraco factory in Istanbul began forming a union. Metraco’s management responded with an anti-union campaign that continues unabated until the present day. Management investigated to learn who was behind the union organisation efforts, and who joined the union and then began applying a range of tactics that included intimidation, firings, and even calling in the military.
In April 2008, hundreds of workers at DESA joined Deri Is, the Turkish leather workers union; 44 of them were subsequently dismissed, while another 55 were forced to resign from the union. Workers reacted by demonstrating outside the DESA factory in the Düzce Industrial Zone where they faced constant repression by local police. Many protesters were arrested.
The PDC garment factory located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia failed to adequately notify its employees when it closed down unexpectedly in 2008. The factory left nearly 600 employees jobless as they waited for payment of their last month’s salary and wondering whether they would ever receive their severance packages as stipulated by Cambodian law.
On 30 July 2008, Body Fashion Thailand Ltd. (BFT) fired Triumph International Labour Union president Jitra Kotshadej for wearing a political T-shirt. In a show of solidarity, some 3,000 workers protested her dismissal and demanded her reinstatement.
The period leading into 2006 saw countless violent attacks against labour rights advocates in the Philippines, which was followed by a seemingly endless wave of escalating contract killings of union leaders, human rights activists and journalists.
In October 2008, Labour lawyer Remigio Saladero from the Pro-labour Legal Assistance Center (PLACE) was arrested on a number of trumped-up criminal charges, including conspiracy to commit rebellion and participating in murder. He was also accused of being a member of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA), which had allegedly torched a Globe Telecom mobile (cell) phone tower in Lemery, Batangas. But Saladero had an alibi: He was in his office in E. Rodriguez Quezon City meeting with a client at the time.
On 30 July 2008, most of Naveena’s employees, and various labour leaders and activists gathered outside the Naveena Textile Mills in Lahore, to demand that management stop paying substandard wages, which often fall below the legal minimum of RS. 6,000 and observe Pakistan’s labour laws and international labour standards.
Retail giants IKEA, Walmart and Carrefour, among others, have conveniently turned a blind eye to blatant cases of union busting at Menderes Tekstil (MT). These brands all source from Menderes Tekstil and have maintained their silence regarding labour rights violations and dangerous working conditions.
Workers at the Kings Land Garment Company in Cambodia have been requesting that its management address a variety of issues regarding their working conditions since mid-2007. They initially sought government intervention but received little support and they exhausted every option in their attempts to arrange negotiations with the factory’s management. So, on 11 January 2008, the Garment Workers Democratic Union (GWDU) went on strike to demand that Kings Land recognise their union, discuss a variety of labour violations, and reinstate 18 union members who had been illegally dismissed after the establishment of the union in July 2007.
On 13 February 2008, 700 workers at the Panyu Li Chang Footwear Co. Ltd, located in the Panyu district of Guangzhou City, returned from their New Year’s holiday to discover that the factory’s owner had absconded with their wages (¥2,000 per employee), had failed to make social security payments for some ten years, had closed the factory and sold all of the machinery and equipment.
On 24 January 2008, two Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) staff members were detained by Bangladesh security forces. One of them, Mehedi Hasan, a field investigator for the Worker Rights Consortium, remains under arrest.
On 11 February 2005, workers in Tangarang, Indonesia returned from a two-day holiday to find that their workplace, PT Tae Hwa sports shoe factory, had closed during their absence, with management nowhere to be found.
Events at the PT Megariamas Sentosa factory (Megariamas) exploded in July 2008 after a relatively insignificant event that involved Megariamas refusing to allow Mr. Abidin, the local shoe, textile and garment workers’ union (SBGTS) representative to attend a training course organised by the Federation of Independent Indonesian Trade Unions (GSBI), to which his union is affiliated.
On 11 October and again on 14 November 2007, a group of unidentified perpetrators attacked the Dagongzhe (DGZ) Migrant Worker Centre in Shenzhen, destroying the premises. On 20 November, staff member Huang Qingnan was seriously injured when he was stabbed by two unidentified men.
In May 2007, 26 employees at Jakarta’s PT Mulia Knitting Factory (MKF) formed the SBGTS-GSBI union to address the factory’s systematic violation of workers rights including withholding compensation for female workers during pregnancy leave and failing to provide transportation for female workers after the night shift. Moreover, MKF failed to pay mandatory health and pension benefits, often failed to provide adequate safety equipment and hired workers under precarious, temporary contracts.
In June 2006, in the month before football players from 16 European nations kicked off the European Cup, 52 dismissed workers in Turkey learned the hard way about the shady underside of European championship soccer. They worked for the Mink Tekstil (MT) factory in Konya, which produces Euro 2008 logo merchandise.