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Guatemalan Workers Attacked

Worker organizers physically and brutally assaulted in Guatemala.
Guatemala: Korean Owners of Maquiladoras (Sweat Shops) Organize A Lynching to Prevent the Consolidation of a Recent Formed Union.

On July 18 2001, workers-leaders of the recent constituted SITRACIMA, the union of workers of Cimatextiles, S.A and SITRACHOL, the union of workers at Choisin S.A, both factories owned by Koreans and working for the prestigious U.S.A. corporation Liz Claiborne, in Guatemala, were violently assaulted, injured, and deadly threatened by a mob, previously organized by the owners of the Korean sweat shops mentioned above, who observed this violent attack with a smile in their faces.

Gloria Cordova, General Secretary of SITRACIMA affirmed that: "since the threat of a lynching began we knew that it was organized by the owners to impede the organization and work of the union."

These Korean maquila owners want to force the union leadership to quit their jobs and their work in defense of human and labour rights of workers. They could not prevent the formation of this important organization on July 9, now they defy the Guatemalan labour legislation (already weak) taking advantage of the level of national impunity existent in this country.

Sonia González, a worker/leader comments: "The owners called the union leadership to a meeting in the soccer field; when we were there, many people with sticks, bottles and everything they could grab to hit us, approach the union leadership, very violently. It seemed as if they had rehearsed the attack because they knew what and how to do it. . . the Koreans were there laughing at us. A female supervisor was yelling: We have to kick them out.

. . we have to lynch them!!! . . . . We sought refuge in a small store place but the organized mob kicked the door with such a violence that it began to fall down. . . they also broke all the windows and through one of them they threw many blank sheets and new pens forcing us to quit our jobs."

These unions, whose workers are mostly women, were organized to defend workers of the constant abuses by maquila owners, and to seek better working conditions in on the most exploitative workplaces in the world. Workers and Unions' leaders urge the Guatemalan Ministry of Labour to directly intervene to guarantee the protection of the labour and human rights of unionized workers.

They also call for an urgent solidarity from international human rights, women's organizations, and labour/environmental organizations to send letters of protest demanding the respect of their rights, including the right to form unions. Please send your messages to the legal representative and also oenwe of these maquilas:

Chang Yong Lee,
Cimatextiles, S.A., Km. 18.5 Carretera Mayan Gold, Municipio de Villa Nueva,
Guatemala, Guatemala.
Telefax: (502) 631-2024

For further information in Spanish you can contact FESTRAS, telephone (502) 251-8091 festras (at) terra.com.gt or with El Proyecto de Solidaridad con Mujeres Trabajadoras "Stitch" mtraub (at) guate.net
 
 

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