Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador (CAT, the local workers' support centre)
The Matamoros Garment factory closed its doors on 24 March because of a supposed 15-day "technical work stoppage". The factory's remaining 130 workers are to be paid 50% of their wages during this 15-day period. This comes after PUMA, the German sportswear giant which sub-contracted at Matamoros, pulled production out of the factory, following an international campaign protesting at working conditions there.
Agustina Garcia, leader of the new, independent Sindicato Independiente de Trabajadores de la Empresa Matamoros Garment (SITEMAG), commented, "This 50%, which for me is 250 pesos [about $25 US], won't cover anything. I have three children to take care of so I can't just stand around with my arms crossed, but at the same time I am not thinking about giving up the fight [for jobs and an independent union]."
While Matamoros Garment is closed, many workers, including the SITEMAG union committee, plan to work at the MexMode garment factory in Atlixco, Puebla, where two years ago the workers formed their own independent union.
Since the factory's closure and the denial of the independent union's legal registration, the workers and their supporters have taken a two-pronged approach. The CAT is filing a collective demand in Mexico for the unjustified dismissal of the Matamoros Garment workers. US students and labour rights organisations are pressing the Mexican government for denying SITEMAG's registration.
Additionally, PUMA cannot be left to avoid its responsibility to these garment workers. We must maintain pressure on PUMA to return its production to Puebla when the factory reopens and agree to independent verification of working conditions.
Meanwhile here in Puebla, the CAT will continue investigating other maquiladoras in nearby Tepeojuma and Champusco.
Please continue your support of the Matamoros Garment workers by contacting the Local Labour Board and the Governor of the State of Puebla to demand that SITEMAG be legally recognised:
- Lic. Armando Toxqui Quintero, Junta Local de Conciliacion y Arbitraje, 7 Norte 205, Colonia Centro, Puebla, Mexico
Email: armando.toxqui @puebla. gob.mx
- Gobernador MelquÌades Morales Flores, 14 Oriente, No. 1204, Colonia El Alto, Puebla, Mexico
Fax: (222) 213-8805 (Dial Mexican country code 52 before the number)