By the Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador (CAT - workers' centre)
On 19 July workers at Tarrant Mexico-Ajalpan held a constituent assembly to form an independent union (SUITTAR, or Sindicato Único Independiente de Trabajadores de la Empresa Tarrant México). Seven hundred of the thousand-strong workforce have joined the union.
SUITTAR applied for formal registration for the new independent union. It is common that registrations for independent unions are denied because of the anti-union policies in Mexico.
The most extreme violation of the workers' campaign so far has been the dismissal of seven leaders from the first negotiating coalition that was formed on 10 June when more than 800 workers held a strike. Two of the workers were pressured to sign their dismissal and receive severance pay. The five fighting for their reinstatement are Norma Altamirano, Gerardo Ginez, Raymundo Méndez, Martín Zacatzi and Alejandro Rodríguez Sánchez.
The CAT and the workers' lawyer will serve legal papers to fight for the workers' reinstatement. The dismissed workers are now fabulous organisers and have committed themselves both to the fight for reinstatement as well as to the establishment of SUITTAR.
We are now receiving reports that Tarrant México is planning to lay off over 4,500 workers in its plants in Ajalpan and Tehuacán.
It appears unlikely that Tarrant will close its maquiladoras in Ajalpan and Tehuacán, given the enormous investment of $150 million that was made a few years ago to consolidate its production in the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala. More likely the company has decided to scare the SUITTAR workers, threatening them with layoffs.
Levi's is the major client at Tarrant México-Ajalpan and has major responsibility for the workers' treatment and the plant's labour environment. Levi's has a Code of Conduct that promises the workers certain labour rights. However, when the seven fired SUITTAR workers and the CAT spoke with Levi's representative she hung up the phone. Therefore Ajalpan workers need you to communicate with Levi's and ask that they meet with the CAT and SUITTAR.
- Robert Haas, Chairman, Levi Strauss & Co: email@example.com
- Michael Koboriin, Levi's Social Responsibility Department: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Levi Strauss UK, Swan Valley, Northampton NN4 9BA. Email: email@example.com
Note: copy your email to the CAT so that the workers can stay informed.
The CAT email address is firstname.lastname@example.org