Students across the country are mobilizing in response to Nike's continued lack of effective action to resolve the problems at the Kukdong plant.
During the week of February 19th, 39 workers returned (along with two original independent union organizers), and there may now be as many as 600 workers working at the plant.
National Days of Action have been declared for March 2 and 3:
- FRIDAY MARCH 2, 2001: Individual campus actions
ex: UC Berkeley will be doing an action in front of its bookstore
- SATURDAY MARCH 3, 2001: NIKETOWN actions.
ex: In California there will be two major Niketown protests. All the schools from Northern Cal(contact Sara Suman(USF)- firstname.lastname@example.org) will be in San Francisco and all the schools from Southern Cal.(contact: Chrystine Lawson(UCSB)- email@example.com) will be in Los Angeles.
Archived Recent Updates
These updates have been taken from e-mails sent by Eric Brakken over the last several weeks. Please excuse any errors or formatting defects, they have been posted as quickly as possible to be useful.Back to top
Update from Kuk Dong struggle in Atlixco de Puebla, Mexico Friday, February 23rd -- 7 pm EST
No violence or strike today; Movement is vigilant, struggle continues
At the end of the day, there was no move by the FROC CROC to attempt to impose a strike on the workers at Kuk Dong. Today, there was peace in the factory.
However, the movement for an independent union at Kuk Dong is remaining vigilant; hopefully, the international community follows their lead. The organizers in the movement think that there is still a very good chance that an attempt to impose an illegitimate strike, and the potential violence associated with it, could happen by the FROC CROC next Monday. Incidentally, this is the same day that another of the originally-fired five leaders of the movement, along with scores more workers, will attempt to be reinstated into the factory.
The fact is that as of February 13th, the FROC CROC had filed all of the legal papers with the local arbitration and reconciliation board, Kuk Dong, Nike, and Reebok to have a strike at Kuk Dong. This becomes a constant source of intimidation that hangs over the heads of all of the workers, especially when a union with such a brutal history -- both at Kuk Dong and in past struggles -- is involved. When there are constant rumors running through the factory that the FROC CROC is about to initiate a violent raid, they are taken very seriously. Any pressure that helps to avert violence is worth it.
The movement has so far won tremendous and unprecedented gains, and we should celebrate these victories. Let's pause a minute and do so. Kuk Dong has begun to take some appropriate steps. Hundreds of workers and the leadership of the independent union effort have all been or are soon to be reinstated with their previous benefits and seniority. Charges have been dropped against the leaders of the struggle. Nike and Reebok have had to accept the demands placed before them to direct Kuk Dong to take these actions, and they have each had to publicly commit to retaining their production in Atlixco de Puebla. We have made a huge step forward.
This is happening in an industry that is the epitome of corporate-driven globalization, with huge power differentials between working people and those corporations that make the decisions about what their lives will be like. It is happening in an economic context where more investment in the region is currently based on the premise that workers will never rise up and demand more respect, better wages, and decent working conditions. It is happening in one of the most conservative regions in all of Mexico, with a state and local government that is intricately tied to the corruption and brutality of the FROC CROC.
There has been success so far because of the passion, because of the persistence, and because of the courage of the (mostly) young Mexican women who are risking everything for an independent union that will truly represent their interests because no one else can do it for them. It is they, not us, for whom the threats of violence are most real. It is they who deal daily with the tactics of intimidation in the factory. It is they who bear the weight of knowing perhaps that they are the only wage earner in their family, and it is not only them but many others who depend on their continued employment. Still, they continue to be dedicated to the struggle. They went on strike in early January not only out of a sense of solidarity, but because of the knowledge that in doing so something better would come, not only for themselves but for their children and their future. They continue to challenge the small company tactics that go unreported and yet happen everyday as Kuk Dong tries to assert its authority over the workers. And after rising at 4 or 5 in the morning and not returning until late in the evening every day of the work week, they give up their nights for meetings and their weekends to travel to one of 200 pueblos to tell more of their companer@s that they may return safely to the factory, that the movement still lives, that it is getting stronger. It is these people, women like Josefina Hernandez Ponce and Marcela Munoz, who are the heroes of this struggle.
And yet the climate has changed. This struggle exists in a brand new context. Throughout the state, news of the struggle at Kuk Dong is at the front of all of the newspaper headlines, the topic of conversation at the cafes. Articles and editorials raise questions about why just because multinational corporations bring investment to Puebla they have license to exploit them too. It is an ongoing saga, closely watched. This week, when two of the originally-fired five workers successfully entered the factory again, it was covered throughout the region on a live radio broadcast. This is not another situation where scores of workers have been fired and no one is held responsible, where the government and the transnational corporations that ultimately employ these women conveniently look the other way and pretend nothing ever happened. The FROC CROC has not showed up with baseball bats at the factory or in people's homes to break their legs. The state police have not been able to arrest any of the leaders. Something is different.
Solidarity is happening everywhere. It is not only the other human rights groups, women's groups, and labor unions in Mexico supporting in various ways the struggles of the workers. It is the students in Connecticut who hand out leaflets at college basketball games in sub-freezing temperatures, or in New Orleans who endlessly raise money to support the workers, or in San Francisco who hold a demonstration in the pouring rain, or in Chicago who take arrests inside a Niketown to bring the level of intensity to another level. It is also the students from throughout the country who stop their lives for weeks on end to go to Atlixco, to accompany workers as they make their house visits and provide an international presence to ensure that violence is not carried out against them. It is also those in Toronto, or London, or Madrid, or Australia who picket and protest in support of the struggle. It is those workers at Nike factories in Thailand and Indonesia who have offered their support. It is the members of the Korean House of International Solidarity who, after years of holding Korean companies accountable for their practices in East and Southeast Asia, made their first foray into Mexico last week to support the Kuk Dong struggle and maintained a crucial presence as independent observers while the two leaders and many more workers successfully negotiated their reinstatement to the factory. It is the myriad (too many to count) of labor and human rights groups in the U.S., Canada, and Europe - locally and nationally - who give strategy, publicity, and grassroots mobilization to the struggle. The movement for an independent union extends a long way, and when it started on the first day of the strike it did so not only out of a sense of solidarity, but because of the knowledge that in doing so something better would come, not only for Kuk Dong workers but for our children and our future.
These things have changed the context of this struggle but they have not won it. In a movement for an independent and democratic union, reinstatement into a factory where an unrepresentative and dangerous company union still reigns is only a step, not a victory. Now comes the stage when the workers will petition for legal recognition of their own union and call for a free and fair election. They will soon craft new demands to see that this is carried out. If their freedom of association is ever violated in the process, it is not only a violation of an agreement that has been won, but a threat to all of the progress that has been made so far. And so the Kuk Dong workers never let up, they barely rest. They are struggling for a better future than what they have had, so they remain vigilant. We are taking their lead.Back to archived updates
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Immediate Alert from Kuk Dong Struggle, February 23, 2001:
FROC CROC planning ‘strike’ this afternoon;
Violence and intimidation a high possibility -- immediate pressure needed
The representatives of United Students Against Sweatshops at the Kuk Dong struggle in Atlixco de Puebla, Mexico have just learned that the FROC CROC, the illegitimate, unrepresentative union that Kuk Dong management chose to associate with at the factory, is planning a strike to as soon as 3 pm EST this afternoon (Friday). The possibility of this development was reported in another alert earlier this week, which is also posted below.
The workers in the movement for an independent union at Kuk Dong are organizing in resistance to this development by circulating a petition in the factory this morning denouncing the FROC CROC's tactics and urging other workers not to honor the strike. USAS reps are also attempting to get local independent observers, including Nike's independent mediator Arturo Alcalde, to the factory to be a witness this afternoon.
However, as reported previously, the possibility of the FROC CROC using violence and intimidation this afternoon to force workers to go on strike is very high. The FROC CROC has been known to attack other CROC members, state police, independent unions, and company representatives at a whim. On March 24, 2000, over 200 CROC members with sticks and stones attacked Puebla state police guarding the Siemens factory, in a similar attempt to impose a strike on the workers who were organizing an independent union.
There is also a possibility that if the FROC CROC is successful on getting workers to leave the factory during their strike, that Kuk Dong may use that as legitimacy to again fire workers who are part of the movement for a independent and democratic union.
Immediate international pressure denouncing this violence and would further paint the FROC CROC as an illegtimate and dangerous union that violates all basic principles of freedom of association in Puebla, Mexico.
Please call and email Nike and governmental representatives in Mexico immediately to tell them that if any violence or intimidation transpires today, that this will be seen as a direct violation of workers’ rights to freedom of association, and will reflect poorly on them. Tell Nike that its unwillingness to this point to commit to an ongoing independent monitoring presence by local NGOs in the Kuk Dong plant is only increasing the likelihood of such violence and intimidation in the future, and is hand-in-hand with the FROC CROC’s strategy.Back to archived updates
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Update from February 19th
Illegitimate company union threatens strike in desperate move to restore its authority; Fear of violence against workers escalates
United Students Against Sweatshops has just learned from our representatives in Atlixco de Puebla, Mexico that the the FROC CROC, the illegitimate official union allied with management, has filed 21 counts of unfair labor grievances at the Kuk Dong factory as of last Tuesday, February 13th. This is a desperate attempt by the FROC CROC to maintain its authority over the workers sympathetic to the movement to win an independent, democratic union at the factory and to attempt to scuttle the gains that have been made to see that freedom of association is guaranteed in the factory. The grievances allege, among other issues, the following:
- that Kuk Dong is showing favoritism toward supporters of the work stoppage and paying them more than others
- that two secretaries in the Kuk Dong offices, who have been sympathetic to the movement for an independent union, have treated workers poorly; and
- that the previous presence of independent monitors in the factory is unfair meddling by outsiders in the FROC CROC’s business, and
- that Kuk Dong has interfered in the internal affairs of the FROC CROC by ordering the reinstatement of workers illegally fired during the strike.
These grievances have been sent by the FROC CROC via the local government’s labor and reconciliation board to Kuk Dong, Nike, and Reebok; supposedly, they are supposed to be given to all workers in the plant, although from independent interviews it turns out that few workers have received them.
There is a significant fear that to assert their ‘authority’ the FROC CROC will again resort to violence in this unfolding episode by trying to force workers at the factory to stage a strike supporting their grievances. This could happen as soon as tomorrow, Monday, February 19th. Incindentally, this is the same date that some of the leaders of the independent union organizing effort, whose illegal firings precipitated the original strike at Kuk Dong in early January, will attempt a return to the factory in a watershed moment for the workers’ struggle that would encourage perhaps hundreds of workers who are afraid or unsure to go back in to work at the moment because of fear of company intimidation tactics. These leaders have previously received threats from the security chief at Kuk Dong that they would be physically harmed if they attempted to return.
A strike by the FROC CROC would be illegal because it would not be called by a majority vote of the workers in the factory; rather, it would be a strike called by leaders of an undemocratic, unrepresentative, company-allied union who has never previously advocated for improving conditions at the factory previous to this struggle. The leaders of the movement for an independent and democratic union at Kuk Dong are advocating, to demonstrate the illegitimacy of the FROC CROC, that workers do not strike. But there concern that thugs hired by the company union will raid the factory to intimidate workers into going on strike and physically harming those who refuse. It would be an ironic twist on the events that transpired January 11th, when police and thugs from the FROC CROC raided the factory to break up a wildcat strike for an independent union; their violence on that night sent 15 workers to the hospital.
As more workers who were illegally fired return to employment at the factory, and the movement for an independent union moves forward, there is a higher likelihood that the FROC CROC or security forces at Kuk Dong will escalate a strategy of violence and intimidation tactics. Because of this possibility, it is urgent that Nike do two things immediately to guarantee the safety of workers at Kuk Dong and ensure that their freedom of association is respected:
(1) Nike must make a public commitment to maintain a third party monitoring presence at the factory of local human rights organizations in Puebla to ensure that the workplace is an environment free of intimidation through the duration of this struggle. This is a demand repeated previously several times over the past few weeks, without an ongoing commitment yet to maintain this third party presence. Given the escalating situation at Kuk Dong, this is now only all the more urgent and necessary. Not maintaining this presence when the history and threats of violent intimidation tactics by the FROC CROC and security at Kuk Dong are so high would serve to make Nike complicit in that strategy.
(2) Since the grievances filed on Februrary 13th were sent to both Nike and Reebok, as well as Kuk Dong management, they should release publicly the date and time that was set by the local labor and reconciliation board that a strike may begin if the allegations are not answered.
These demands are in addition to the ones posted last Friday about the planned return to the factory this week of the leadership of the movement for an independent union and guaranteeing freedom of association for the workers at Kuk Dong. Those demands also included:
1. Publicly guarantee the safe and unconditional return of the 5 leaders originally fired in the Kuk Dong struggle, and to renounce the earlier threats to their physical safety and the issuing of warrants for their arrest. Demand that they reaffirm their commitment that all workers should be rehired to Kuk Dong unconditionally and without reprisal, and to increase their pressure on Kuk Dong management to see that this is carried out. Nike wrote in a statement released last Friday that “The factory intends to rehire the original five workers that initiated the work stoppage and has made a formal written request that charges be dropped against the workers in connection with the events of January.” The proof of that will begin tomorrow.
2. Publicly call on Kuk Dong to rehire all returning workers unconditionally and under the same salary, position, and seniority of their previous employment, including guarantees that all leaders of the independent union effort will not continue to be isolated from other workers at the factory. Nike’s statement last Friday said that the factory intends to reinstate all of the workers at the same salary, benefits, and seniority. However, they said nothing about bringing workers back to their former positions, and USAS reps reported that Kuk Dong resisted an attempt by Reebok to meet about the situation of Ivan de Erick Diaz Xolo, the worker who released a statement to the U.S. last week describing how he has been confined to an office, away from other employees, since returning from the work stoppage.
3. Publicly call on Kuk Dong to discontinue the illegal process of forcing returning workers to sign statements of loyalty to the FROC CROC, and urge Kuk Dong to drop its illegal and invalid "protection contract" with the FROC CROC.
4. Publicly reaffirm their commitment to continue the same levels of production at Kuk Dong - Mexico as it has since the factory opened and see to it that Kuk Dong remains in Atlixco de Puebla.
Please contact the following people and urge university presidents with Nike contracts and licensing codes of conduct to publicly call on Nike to enforce the freedom of association of the codes by complying with the above demands.:
2) Contact the Mexican Labor Secretary: Urge the Labor Secretary to use this conflict as an opportunity to prove that Mexico is a fair and stable place for people to work without violent intimidation, and that all workers enjoy the right to organize independent unions.
Basic history about the struggle at Kuk Dong
Kuk Dong has been the site of a 1 ½ month long struggle for freedom of association, just wages and benefits, fair conditions, and an end to physical and verbal abuse as well as forced overtime. The workers make an average of 75-cents per hour, far below the cost of living for a family in the region, and are forced to eat rancid food supplied by the company in its cafeteria. The struggle was initiated when all of the 850+ workers in the factory went on a wildcat strike on January 9th after 5 workers were fired at the factory for being leaders in a campaign to organize an independent union at the factory. Days later, as the workers occupied the factory grounds, 200 riotpolice raided the factory raided the strike, and thugs hired by the company and it's undemocratic union, the FROC CROC beat several workers, sending 15 to the hospital. Two days later, an agreement was reached to allow the strikers to return to work without reprisals, but shortly after hundreds of returning workers were either fired or forced to resign. After an escalation in pressure in Puebla and internationally, the company signed a second agreement on January 25th stating that all workers could return to their jobs unconditionally and without reprisal.Back to archived updates
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Leaders in Kuk Dong Struggle to Attempt a Return to the Factory - February 15th
Defining Moment of Campaign to Happen Early Next Week;
Nike Must Publicly Call on Kuk Dong to Renege on Threats of Arrests, Physical Harm and Accept Workers to their Original Positions at the Factory
United Students Against Sweatshops has received reports from our representatives in Mexico that some of the five workers who were originally fired in early January for their leadership in the struggle for an independent union at the Kuk Dong factory in Atlixco de Puebla, Mexico will attempt to return to work early next week, perhaps as early as 7 am Monday morning.
This is a defining moment in the campaign, as their return would encourage perhaps hundreds of workers who are afraid or unsure to go back in to work at the moment because of fear of company intimidation tactics. Kuk Dong management, through its security chief has threatened physical harm against the leaders of the independent union effort and has not publicly denied reports that they still have warrants out for the arrests of five workers and one organizer who have been at the lead of the campaign. Furthermore, despite the fact that threats to these workers are in direct violation of the principles of freedom of association in university codes of conduct and its own code, Nike has not publicly taken a position specifically calling for the safe return of the five leaders oringinally fired, nor has it called for the charges to be dropped against them.
Kuk Dong has been the site of a month-long struggle for freedom of association, just wages and benefits, fair conditions, and an end to physical and verbal abuse as well as forced overtime. The workers make an average of 75-cents per hour, far below the cost of living for a family in the region, and are forced to eat rancid food supplied by the company in its cafeteria. The struggle was initiated when all of the 850+ workers in the factory went on a wildcat strike on January 9th after 5 workers were fired at the factory for being leaders in a campaign to organize an independent union at the factory. Days later, as the workers occupied the factory grounds, 200 riot police raided the factory raided the strike, and thugs hired by the company and it's undemocratic union, the FROC CROC beat several workers, sending 15 to the hospital. Two days later, an agreement was reached to allow the strikers to return to work without reprisals, but shortly after hundreds of returning workers were either fired or forced to resign. After an escalation in pressure in Puebla and internationally, the company signed a second agreement on January 25th stating that all workers could return to their jobs unconditionally and without reprisal.
The return of these 5 leaders of the union effort was strongly recommended in the results of both the independent investigation of the Worker Rights Consortium but also the independent mediator Nike originally dispatched to the conflict, Arturo Alcalde. The International Labor Rights Fund, who also participated in drafting the Alcalde report, said it best: "We believe that the crisis at the Kukdong factory can be resolved if action is taken swiftly to re-employ all the workers who were on strike. When it comes to union representation, justice delayed is justice denied.
Furthermore, other violations of freedom of association continue at the factory:
- Because of an arbitrary and illegal deadline set by management at Kuk Dong for workers to return to their jobs, all employees illegally fired during the strike are currently being rehired as new employees. This is a clear violation of the agreement signed by Kuk Dong to allow workers back to the factory unconditionally under the terms of their previous employment. Hence, the previous salaries, positions, and seniority of returning workers are revoked, and all workers are being forced to sign statements of loyalty to the FROC CROC.
- Kuk Dong management has isolated workers who it believes are leaders of the indpendent union effort to actively discourage organizing among workers in the factory. Below in this message is a statement from one of the leaders of the strike who has been forced to be locked up in an office, away from his normal position and the rest of the employees, since he has been brought back to the factory.
- Last week, over 70 workers were not allowed to return immediately to the factory. Rather, they were told by Kuk Dong officials that management would get back to them days later after reviewing their files, since "nobody could be trusted" and the company would only hire those workers that were "convenient." Although they were told they would receive telegrams detailing their status early this week, it still is not clear to this point that all of the workers have been allowed back to the factory.
- USAS representatives report that the company is now physically dividing up the factory and telling workers that they are now working for multiple owners and multiple companies. This is a clear union-busting tactic.
- Kuk Dong has not dropped its contract with the FROC CROC which was found by Nike's own independent mediator, Arturo Alcalde, to be illegal and invalid because it did not incorporate a salary structure. Yet Nike has allied itself with the FROC CROC by falsely insisting that under Mexican law, workers must sign statements of support for the company union before getting their jobs back (which they would not have to do if they were not being brought back under the classification of new employees).
- Nike has not committed yet to have a continual presence of independent external monitors at the factory during the crucial next few weeks to see to it that intimidation toward the workers does not increase.
Throughout this struggle, Nike has fully participated in a "scorched earth" strategy by delaying, delaying, and delaying again at every turn. When five workers were originally fired at the factory, Nike stood by and did nothing. When police attacked the subsequent worker occupation of the factory grounds, sending 15 people to the hospital, Nike stood by and did nothing. When Kuk Dong management illegally fired or forced the resignation of more than 200 more workers the following week, Nike stood by and did nothing. It said it had an independent mediator studying the issue, and that it would not act until he found the facts. When both that independent mediator and the WRC uncovered serious violations of freedom of association at Kuk Dong and other violations of the Nike and collegiate codes of conduct, Nike decided to call for another investigation because it did not like the results of the first two.
While Nike stands by, continuing to research and refusing to act, serious violations of freedom of association continue, workers are forced to find other work, and consequently those who originally supported the union are fired de facto, weakening the organizing effort and the freedom of the workforce to choose their own representatives. Nike has not been just a buyer in the wrong place at the wrong time; rather, it is a fully complicit participant in a strategy to undermine workers' right to organize.
Please take the following action before next Monday to help ensure the safe return of the leaders of the struggle for an independent union effort at Kuk Dong:
(1) Contact Nike and Kuk Dong before Monday, telling them to:
A. Publicly guarantee the safe and unconditional return of the 5 leaders originally fired in the Kuk Dong struggle, and to renounce the earlier threats to their physical safety and the issuing of warrants for their arrest. Demand that they reaffirm their commitment that all workers should be rehired to Kuk Dong unconditionally and without reprisal, and to increase their pressure on Kuk Dong management to see that this is carried out.
B. Publicly call on Kuk Dong to rehire all returning workers unconditionally and under the same salary, position, and seniority of their previous employment, including guarantees that all leaders of the independent union effort will not continue to be isolated from other workers at the factory.
C. Publicly call on Kuk Dong to discontinue the illegal process of forcing returning workers to sign statements of loyalty to the FROC CROC, and urge Kuk Dong to drop its illegal and invalid "protection contract" with the FROC CROC.
D. Commit to the continual presence of mutually agreed upon local independent monitors at the factory to ensure there is a free and fair climate for an election at Kuk Dong where the workers can secure a union that represents their voices.
E. Publicly reaffirm their commitment to continue the same levels of production at Kuk Dong - Mexico as it has since the factory opened and see to it that Kuk Dong remains in Atlixco de Puebla.
Remind them that their actions to date have been insufficient to ensure that worker rights are respected at the Kuk Dong factory, and that justice delayed is justice denied.
2) Urge university presidents with Nike contracts and licensing codes of conduct to publicly call on Nike to enforce the freedom of association of the codes by complying with the five above demands.
3) Contact the Mexican Labor Secretary: Urge the Labor Secretary to use this conflict as an opportunity to prove that Mexico is a fair and stable place for people to work without violent intimidation, and that all workers enjoy the right to organize independent unions.
Statement of Ivan de Erick Diaz Xolo: Strike Leader Isolated from Other Workers at the Factory
My name is Ivan de Erick Diaz Xolo. I am one of the workers at Kuk Dong who participated in the stoppage. When I went to ask for a job, or rather, to be reinstated, I was rejected until the fourth time I went, when I was admitted but I was placed in an office position. I never told them I wanted to be there. I simply wanted and still want to be in my previous position, which was "Inspection." I tell them every day to allow me in my work area and they do not pay attention. They say that this order was given by the "President of the Company". This is what Hugo de la Peña says to me. I thought they were going to honor the agreement they made with Conciliation and Arbitration Board that people were going to be reinstated to their work areas. They do not even allow me to enter the factory, and if I want to enter I need to be accompanied by someone from security. These orders were given by Hugo de la Peña.
Ivan de Erick Diaz Xolo
Mi nombre es Ivan de Erick Diaz Xolo. Soy uno de los trabajadores de Kuk Dong que participaron en el paro. Cuando iba a pedir trabajo o mas bien a reingresar a la empresa me rechazaban hasta que a la cuarta vez que fui me admitieron pero me pusieron en un puesto de oficina cual yo nunca les dije que queria estar alli. Yo simplemente queria y quiero estar en mi puesto anterior que era el de "Inspeccion" cual a ellos les digo cada dia que me bajen a mi area y no me hacen caso. Dicen que esa orden la dio el "Presidente de la Empresa." Eso me lo dice el Lic. Hugo de la Peña.Yo pensaba que iban a respetar el convenio que hicieron con la Junta de Conciliacion y Arbitraje de que se iba a reintegrar a sus areas de trabajo.No me dejan ni entrar a la nave y que si quiero entrar necesito or con uno de seguridad, esas ordenes las dio el Lic. Hugo de la Peña.
Ivan de Erick Diaz Xolo
Findings of the Worker Rights Consortium regarding the illegal firings of the five original leaders of the independent union effort:
"On January 3, 2001, Kukdong fired five supervisory workers who were leaders of a drive to replace the CROC with a new union. The purportedly legitimate grounds for dismissal - asserted post hoc by Kukdong managers - were utterly incredible (and contradictory) and therefore pretextual. After the dismissals, managers on some occasions accused the five workers of embezzling garments on unspecified dates well before the date on which they were concurrently discharged; and on other occasions accused the supervisory workers of failing to give lunch coupons to rank-and-file workers, or of taking away these coupons, on a date well before the date of discharge. These accusations were not made at any time before the firing. In sum, there is substantial credible evidence that when Kukdong managers fired the five supervisory workers, the managers were motivated exclusively by their hostility to the workers' exercise of their right of free association."Back to archived updates
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The situation at Kukdong has been developing since the beginning of January. Here are a few key points, as reported in the Workers Rights Consortium's Preliminary Report from their investigative delegation of the January 20-23 weekend.
- Child Labor: the Kukdong factory employed 13-15 year-old children for 9-10 hours per day. Violates Mexican Constitution.
- Physical Assault and Abuse: the Kukdong management have struck workers with hammers and screwdrivers, slapped and insulted them. Admitted by factory management.
- Denial of Leave: the management has denied maternity leave and sick leaves. Violates Mexican labor law.
- Wages: Kukdong workers have been paid less than the Mexican minimum wage, conceded by a Kukdong manager to be a difficult wage for one person to live on.
- Meals: management promised free breakfasts and lunches when hiring workers, but provides minimal breakfasts in a culture where this is a substantial meal, and provides rancid meat for lunch.
- Firings: on 1/3/2001 5 workers were fired for attempting to replace the management-controlled CROC union with a worker-oriented one. The workers were given reason for their dismissal only after being dismissed.
- Union Busting: several hundred riot police were called in on 1/11/2001 to break up a peaceful occupation of the grounds by workers fighting for their dignity. Kukdong management refused to reinstate workers who participated in a work stoppage, and 200-300 workers remain out of work.
- Loss of Job Status: workers who have been allowed back to work have frequently been rehired rather than reinstated, losing their previous wages and being re-selected to weed out union organizers.
These crimes represent violations of Mexican labor law, Nike's Code of Conduct, and licensing Universities' Codes of Conduct. This situation demands immediate and strong intervention by Nike officials to ensure the rights of workers and Kukdong, thus upholding Nike's contracts with University licensors.Back to top
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