Fwd: Support Industria Fronteriza Workers (Tijuana)
- ----- Forwarded message from Globalifobicas@... -----
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2002 08:24:46 EST
Subject: Support Industria Fronteriza Workers (Tijuana)
SUPPORT INDUSTRIA FRONTERIZA WORKERS
MERRY CHRISTMAS: YOU ARE FIRED!
Hundred of workers, mostly women, have been laid off without any severance
pay from Industria Fronteriza, a maquiladora in Tijuana. Some of the workers
were laid off from Industria Fronteriza after having worked there for more
than 20 years. The workers are facing Christmas and the New Year with no
money, no jobs, no severance pay, and no opportunities to obtain a new job
since the maquiladoras will not hire anybody until February 2003 or later.
At the same time, the Industria Fronteriza workers are fighting back,
demanding the severance pay that under Mexican labor laws they are entitled
to receive from the company. Please help support them!
THE LABOR CONFLICT IN INDUSTRIA FRONTERIZA
As other maquiladoras in Baja California, Industria Fronteriza faced many
problems after September 11. The company is currently insolvent, facing huge
debts and legal demands from several customers. Industria Fronteriza is in
bankruptcy, but the owners are denying that in order to escape their legal
obligations. Instead, they have figured out how to steal the workers'
The first conflict exploded in May 2002 when the Industria Fronteriza owners
did not pay the yearly bonus to the workers. According to the Mexican labor
laws, the companies have to recognize workers' efforts by paying them 10% of
the annual profits. Industria Fronteriza failed to fulfill this obligation
and a group of workers protested. The revolt was controlled by the managers,
who gave some excuses and promises (that never were accomplished). Then they
fired the workers who had headed the protest. These workers have challenged
the enterprise in the Mexican labor courts.
Many workers still believed in the Industria Fronteriza owners' promises, but
suddenly their loyalty was put to a test. In September 2002, the workers
suddenly "discovered" they had a union when the "union leaders" came to the
factory and forced the workers to sign an "agreement" with the company: you
will accept to "rest" for three months without pay and, in exchange, the
generous enterprise will give you a week of salary compensation and the
promise, a new promise, that you will return to work in January 2003. This is
all you will receive after having worked from 10 to 15 years in Industria
In other words, they were fired without the severance pay. Having this
"agreement," the enterprise was trying to escape paying a severance from five
to ten months of salary that workers must receive according to the Mexican
labor laws. The workers could not believe their ears. Who were the union
leaders? A group of lawyers who had been working for the company for several
years. What about if I don't accept the agreement? The leaders will force you
to accept it, even if it means kidnapping you inside the factory for hours
after your leave time. In a room, they "convinced" them: no bathroom, no
food, no phone was available until they signed. So, they signed the
"agreement." Some workers abandoned the factory, crying. They could not
understand how the owners could treat them so unjustly. Some of them had even
knew the owners on a personal level, since they'd worked there so long.
Then they got organized. A group of workers sued Industria Fronteriza, since
the "agreement" is a violation of the Mexican labor laws. In addition, the
workers asked from the Labor Department an embargo against Industria
Fronteriza. It was evident that the owners were preparing themselves to run
away with money, equipment and property from Industria Fronteriza. They were
ready to completely abandon the workers. The Labor Department, however, did
everything possible to avoid declaring the embargo.
The Industria Fronteriza owners are masters of trickery. In November 2002 the
factory was still open: about fifty workers, the most faithful according to
the supervisors, remained working, but their time finally came. The union
leaders returned to the factory to inform the workers that they were on
strike! It was a legal maneuver to lay off the resting workers without having
to pay them a severance: you are not fired, you just are on strike. It was
also a cleaver move to disclaim the demands of the previously fired workers.
Declaring a strike, the owners built a complex legal labyrinth. If the
factory is finally out of the business, who is going to be the first one to
receive compensation? Yes, Mexican law says that the workers, but which
workers? A malicious division was promoted between the workers previously
laid off and the ones who were now on strike. The owners of course control
the union. Supervisors and even a couple of owners are registered as "workers
who support the strike." They want to have a long strike, and perhaps after
years, when the workers have long abandoned any hope of severance, the owners
will still be there, and will "negotiate" with the union to recuperate their
December 2002: The workers are currently beginning to organize. They are
trying to weave unity between the different groups to force the company to
accept bankruptcy and leave the property to the workers.
HOW TO SUPPORT?
A new effort called the San Diego Maquiladora Workers' Support Network is
collaborating with the Industria Fronteriza workers.
The laid-off workers at Industria Fronteriza need money for food while they
organize to get the money the company owes them. If you would like to help
support them, please write a check to "Stop the FTAA COALITION," and sent it
to: Fred Lonidier, UC/AFT Local 2034, P.O. Box 12005, La Jolla CA 92039. We
will be cashing these checks and taking the money to the workers.
In addition, we are accepting donations of winter clothes, toys (for
Christmas and "Dia de Reyes") and "despensas" (nonperishable food: beans,
rice, milk, tuna fish cans, etc.)
We will send out updates about the struggle at Industria Fronteriza, and we
will be in close touch with Cittac, Workers Information Center (Centro de
Informacion para Trabajadoras y Trabajadores) which is supporting Industria
In case letters, emails, or demonstrations are called for, we will inform you.
If you have further questions about the rather complicated story of the
Industria Fronteriza workers, e-mail Enrique Davalos at
maquilatijuanasandiego@.... Let's help the maquiladora workers win
this fight, so they can win bigger fights in the future!
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