(en) El Salvador factory poisoning update

Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Wed, 10 Dec 1997 03:14:04 -0700

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 18:48:23 -0800 (PST) To: CLR All Campaigns e-mail list <clr@igc.org> From: Mike Rhodes <clr2@igc.apc.org> Subject: El Salvador factory poisoning update

Labor Alerts: a service of Campaign for Labor Rights

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C I S P E S LABOR ACTION ALERT Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador

National Office: P.O. Box 1801, New York, NY 10159 ~ 212-229-1290 3 Regional Offices: New York, NY 212-229-1290 3 Minneapolis, MN 612-872-094= 4 3 San Francisco, CA 415-648-6520

************************************* See ACTION REQUESTS, at end of alert! *************************************

December 8, 1997

DINDEX UPDATE: Carbon Monoxide Poisoned Workers at Salvadoran Factory Pressure Still Needed on Labor Ministry and the Apparel Industry Partnersh= ip

On Tuesday, November 11 over 100 workers at the DINDEX garment factory in El Salvador were poisoned. Many of the workers (including several pregnan= t women) passed out, and suffered from nausea and convulsions. A number required artificial respiration and cardiac massage. At least 3 workers remained hospitalized over two weeks later. Their current state of health is unknown.

The cause of the poisonings has been determined to be carbon monoxide probably released by a diesel generator inside the factory, and the complete absence of ventilation. The windows of the factory have been cemented shut since war-time.

Poisoned water was originally suspected to have caused the poisonings. Chromium, cadmium, lead, arsenic, organochlorides and phosphorus were in samples taken from the water cistern, (which also contained dead insects and other debris), though not in toxic levels.

This tragedy could have been avoided if the Salvadoran Labor Ministry did its job inspecting factories, highlighting the need for an independent factory monitoring system. The successful Independent Monitoring Group already functioning at the Mandarin factory should be extended to all factories in El Salvador.

Moreover, independent monitoring needs to be adopted worldwide. We call o= n the Apparel Industry Partnership (AIP), currently developing a global anti-sweatshop code of conduct at the behest of the White House, to heed this important warning call: Their code must include truly independent monitoring carried out by local human rights, labor, and religious groups, following the successful model in El Salvador!

If it was functioning, the AIP code of conduct also could have prevented the DINDEX travesty: The factory was producing for the Salvadoran market a= t the time of the mass poisonings, but often has sub-contracted production for export.

Finally, by law workers have the right to organize in El Salvador. Yet workers at DINDEX informed the M=E9lida Anaya Montes Women's Movement (MAM= ) that management had threatened to fire anyone who attempted to organize a union.

The Salvadoran Government must enforce the right to organize in El Salvador's Free Trade Zones. And the Apparel Industry Partnership code must include mechanisms to guarantee this right!

ACTION STEPS: 1. Call or fax the Salvadoran Labor Ministry.

Ask for a full investigation of violations of labor, and health an= d safety standards at DINDEX. Insist that they enforce the laws to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated.

Ministry of Labor - Eduardo Tomasino, Minister of Labor Tel: 011-503-263-5438/5655 Fax: 011-503-263-5272

2. Fax or send a letter to the Apparel Industry Partnership.

Denounce this gross violation of garment workers' human rights. Tell them that their global anti-sweatshop code must include the right to organize and truly independent monitoring carried out by local human rights, labor, and religious groups, following the successful model in the Mandarin factory in El Salvador.

Roberta Karp, Co-Chair White House Apparel Industry Partne= rship c/o Liz Claiborne 1 Claiborne Ave, North Bergen, NJ 07047 fax: 201-295-7803

* A sample letter to Ms. Karp is attached. * Please send/fax/e-mail (cispesnatl@igc.apc.org) a copy of your letter to CISPES!

3. Please send the signatures you have collected on the petition to the White House Task Force to the CISPES National Office NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 19. The Task Force is expected to release their code mid-January=