Free the Tipitapa 12: Nicaraguan workers prosecuted after peaceful protest

Last Friday 16th December the twelve workers accused as a consequence of the riot police intervention in a labour conflict in the Korean-owned SAE-A garment factory in Nicaragua in June, received their sentence. CCC continues to demand that all charges be dropped.

Ten of the twelve were sentenced to one year detention, and the remaining two to three years. The workers do not have to serve jail time as they are under house arrest, with the obligation to appear before court every month.

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 had filed charges against the workers.

CCC is working with the Maria Elena Cuadra Women’s Movement, FESITEX textile workers union, the Maquila Solidarity Network, and IndustriALL Global Union on an international campaign to Free the Tipitapa 12.