------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 14:45:28 -0800 (PST) To: CLR All Campaigns 3 <firstname.lastname@example.org> From: Campaign for Labor Rights <email@example.com> Subject: Betrayal in Tijuana! URGENT ALERT!
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***************************************** See URGENT ACTION REQUESTS, later in alert *****************************************
BETRAYAL IN TIJUANA !!! Monday, December 15, 1997
[Based on information provided by the Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers]
After a series of negotiations and discussions involving different parties with a stake in the situation, the Han Young workers, Han Young management and the state government of Baja California agreed Friday evening that they would sign an agreement at 1:00 PM the following day. On Saturday, with the press assembled, the state government representative refused to sign. Between 5 PM on Friday and noon on Saturday something had happened. Exactly who weighed in to smash the deal is unknown. Baja California state officials refused all press interviews and were not answering their phone. The Tijuana press have excoriated the state government.
THE UNSIGNED AGREEMENT
Negotiations and discussions had involved - at one point or another - the workers, Han Young management, Hyundai Precision America management, representatives of the maquila industry association and the Baja state government. In various discussions, all parties had firmly committed to the following terms:
* Recognition of the independent union * Reinstatement of workers fired for union activity * Full back pay for reinstated workers
In addition, Han Young management had committed to:
* A 30 percent general wage increase * Re-establishment of the health and safety commission
The state government of Baja California had committed itself to official recognition of the independent union within 30 days. The mechanism by which the union was to have been recognized was an alternate route for the workers, who had previously sought and obtained a union certification election - the results of which were not certi- fied by the Tijuana labor board. Had the labor board certified that election, the workers would immediately have been allied with the STIMAHCS union, a branch of the independent FAT federation. The resolution that all parties had agreed to on Friday allowed for the workers to have an independent, non-aligned union. The resolution did not preclude the workers from aligning with the FAT sometime later, after the state government had officially certified the independent union. The workers chose this route in order to move the union certi- fication process forward in a reasonable time. The appeal of the labor board's rejection of certification of STIMAHCS, as well as the NAO complaint against the Mexican government for repeated violations of workers' rights to organize are still pending and were not subject to negotiation. But both are long processes, taking months to carry out.
ACTION URGENTLY NEEDED
The three hunger strikers, who were to have ended their protest with the signing, are now three and a half weeks into their fast, taking only water with a little lemon juice and honey in it during all of this time. Today, their co-workers plan to chain themselves to the gates of the state government office. The workers and their supporters now feel a much higher level of urgency to resolve the conflict. International solidarity is now more necessary than ever.
At this moment, the entire focus of international pressure should be on the Mexican federal government. President Zedillo should instruct the state government of Baja California (which effectively controls the labor board) to stop blocking resolution of this crisis. The workers are NOT asking for a new union certification election. They ARE asking Zedillo to tell the Baja state government and its labor board to recognize the independent union immediately and to endorse immediate contract negotiations between the workers and Han Young management.
Three important ways that you can pressure Zedillo:
1) Demonstrations at Mexican consulates and meetings with consulate staff. Call ahead of time and arrange a meeting with consulate staff. In the meeting, give them a letter (see sample below) to fax to President Zedillo. This will greatly increase the chances that your message will reach Mexico. If there is also a demonstration, it should be in tandem with the meeting, not an isolated event. Please do not wait until the weekend!
PLEASE notify Campaign for Labor Rights before and after any demonstrations: (541) 344-5410, <CLR@igc.apc.org>. This information helps the Support Committee for Maquiladoras in its strategic planning and it is vital to the morale of the Han Young workers. See UPDATED LEAFLET TEXT, at end of this alert.
The urgency of the situation and the obvious injustice against the workers might make this an appropriate time for non-violent civil disobedience to call attention to the plight of the Han Young workers.
2) Calls to the Mexican embassy in Washington, DC: (202) 736-1000. Ask that Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo pressure the state government of Baja California and the Tijuana labor board to recognize the independent union immediately and endorse immediate contract negotiations between the workers and Han Young management.
3) Faxes to Zedillo. A sample letter follows:
Ernesto Zedillo President of Mexico Fax: 011-525-271-1764
Dear President Zedillo:
I am writing to ask you to intervene in the crisis at Han Young in Tijuana, Baja California.
On Friday, December 12, Baja California officials publicly committed themselves to sign an agreement between the Han Young workers and Han Young management. The agreement would have ended a long-running injustice against these workers. Among other points in the agreement, all parties agreed to recognition of an independent union for the Han Young workers.
On Saturday, December 13, Baja officials refused to sign the agreement, refused to explain this violation of their verbal commitment and refused all press inquiries.
Three Han Young workers who had been illegally fired for their support of an independent union have been on a hunger strike since November 20 - in a protest which is now becoming perilous to their health. The world is watching the events in Tijuana. Should any of the hunger strikers suffer permanent injury to their health because of their protest of this travesty of judgment, irreparable harm will have been done to the reputation of your government. The injustice against the Han Young workers will be remembered when new trade agreements are being negotiated.
President Zedillo, please use all legal means at your disposal to force the Baja state government and the Tijuana labor board to recognize the independent union immediately and endorse immediate contract negotiations between the workers and Han Young management. I will be following the Han Young situation closely. I hope to learn soon that you have rescued the honor of government in Mexico by using the powers at your disposal in the interest of justice for the Han Young workers.
UPDATED LEAFLET TEXT:
INJUSTICE IN MEXICO !!!
Baja State Government Breaks Commitment! * Hunger Strike Continues!
Three workers from the Han Young factory in Tijuana (in the Mexican state of Baja California) have been on a hunger strike since November 20. Their demand is simple: the right to be represented by the union of their choice.
Chronology of events:
* On October 6, in the presence of international observers, who included representatives of the press, an overwhelming majority of the workers at Han Young voted to be represented by an independent union.
* On November 10, the Tijuana labor board refused to certify that election.
* On November 20, four workers began a juice-only fast, demanding recognition of their union. (On the sixth day, one of the four was rushed to the hospital and had to end his fast.)
* On December 12, after three days of negotiations and discussions involving all parties with a stake in the situation, a agreement was settled upon which was to be signed the next day by the Han Young workers, Han Young management and representatives of the Baja California state government.
* On December 13, with Mexican and international press assembled, the state government refused to the sign the agreement, refused to account for this violation of its commitment and refused all press interviews.
AN INDEPENDENT UNION:
The Han Young workers are defying a system of government-controlled unions which negotiate "protection agreements" in secret. The leadership of the government-controlled union at Han Young was never elected by the workers. Han Young workers see their "representative" only when he shows up to collect his payoff from factory management. That's why Han Young workers are demanding an independent union, a real union, the union of their choice.
CALL THE MEXICAN EMBASSAY:
Please call the Mexican embassy in Washington, DC today and tell them that you want President Zedillo to pressure the state government of Baja California and the Tijuana labor board to recognize the independent union immediately and endorse immediate contract negotiations between the workers and Han Young management: (202) 736-1000.
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