Thirteen people risk three years in prison after violent intervention of riot police in Nicaragua

Last night thirteen people who were arrested during the violent repression from riot police in the Korean owned company SAE-Technotex SA in June in Nicaragua were found guilty and face three years in prison. Monday the sentence will be announced.

Clean Clothes Campaign strongly condemns this act of the Nicaraguan government who in a display of violence in response to the call of the Walmart supplier Korean-owned company SAE - A Technotex SA, on June 27, 2016 sent the riot policy into their factory to repress a peaceful workers' protest for improved workers conditions, such us drinking water, realistic production targets, and the reinstatement of two unionised workers.

This is not the first incident of violence linked to this company. In a 2013 April report of the Commission to Verify Codes of Conduct (COVERCO) commissioned by Fair Labour Association another incident of violence involving SAE A Technotex SA on March 4, 2013 was recorded.

The present case creates a precedent of unacceptable repression to unionist in the free zones of the region and is inconsistent with the current policy of collaboration between South Korea and Nicaragua, which, through the recent signing of a free trade agreement, is intended to improve the economic and labor conditions of all women and men workers operating in the free trade zones of the region.

SAE A Technotex SA is a Korean – owned factory situated in the free-trade zone of Titipapa in Nicaragua. The parent company, SAE-A Trading, is the largest Korea-based multinational apparel production company, with about 20 factories in Asia and Latin America. They are suppliers of US mass-market retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kohl's.

As a result of the brutality displayed through the intervention of the riot police at the factory floor, many workers were injured and eleven were put behind bars as a ‘preventive measure’. Some of those detained were not workers of Sae A Tecnotex SA but people who happened to be on the premises at the time – including a pregnant worker and a worker with heart problems, from other companies. The workers were kept in preventive imprisonment for five days and only released on July 2.

Despite the unreasonable violence directed at workers by the riot police, as video footage vividly shows, and the fact that the company has finally decided to drop charges, the Nicaraguan state has filed charges against the workers, and they now face trial.

Therefor, Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) joins the call of MEC, the affected workers and their families, to demand to the State of Nicaragua to:

  • Drop and/or dismiss the charges against the workers arrested on June 27 at the Sae A Tecnotex factory and ensure their unconditional release;

  • Ensure financial compensation in accordance with national laws and international standards for the accused persons and their families - many of them deprived of their wages and sole means of support during the course of this unjust process;
  • Uphold rights of unions to act on workers behalf;

  • Hold accountable those who demanded the intervention of the riot police in a pacific protest.

  • Ensure that SAE – A Technotex SA address the workers demands for free access to clean drinking water, revise the production targets, ensure decent work, decent treatment to the workers, and the effective fulfillment of workers' rights;

We remain hopeful that the Government of Nicaragua will end unjust actions against its own citizens and put the protection of human and labor rights of the Nicaraguan workers above any other commercial consideration or corporate interest.

Please support this action by sending this letter (esta carta) to the Diplomatic representation of your country in Nicaragua.