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Salvadoran Canning Workers Fight for Their Union - Call for International Support

Posted to the IUF website 10-Jul-2007

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The IUF is mobilizing international support to combat union-busting at a canning facility in La Unión, El Salvador owned by the tuna transnational Calvo, the fourth largest global company in the sector. In addition to its operations in Spain, the company has production facilities in Brazil, Italy and El Salvador, where management has been brutally combatting unionization by its workers.

Calvo began operations in El Salvador in 2002, with funding from the Spanish public-private agency for overseas financing COFIDES. Anti-union from the start, the company in 2004 sacked some 300 women workers when they stopped work to protest intolerable working conditions. In 2006, the company was thrust into the uncomfortable role of political lobbyist in support of ratification by the government of El Salvador of ILO Conventions on the rights of workers to join a union and to bargain collectively - a condition for duty-free access to the European Union market under the EU's GSP system. The ILO conventions were ratified by the legislature in August 2006 - and early this year Calvo workers formed a union, SGTIPAC, legally registered with the Ministry of Labour and affiliated to the national center CSTS.

Calvo retaliated immediately. Three union leaders were fired in February-March; management refused to recognize or negotiate with SGTIPAC; and the company has taken legal action to intimidate union members and supporters while organizing a yellow union to combat SGTIPAC. Most recently, workers have been forced to undergo polygraph ("lie detector") tests regarding, among other themes, their company "loyalty" and attitude to the union.

IUF Latin America has supported the workers and their union by intervening with the Salvadoran and Spanish governments and COFIDES; supporting a complaint to the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association; and organizing visiting delegations of union Calvo workers from Spain and Brazil, among other actions.

You can support the campaign by clicking here to send a message through the IUF's Latin American website to the Salvadoran Labour Minister, the Spanish ambassador to El Salvador and the head of Calvo El Salvador. The message calls for the immediate reinstatement with full back pay of the victimized union leaders; an end to all harassment and intimidation of the union by the company; formal negotiations to resolve workplace issues and conclude a collective bargaining agreement; and a halt to support for the yellow company union.

We thank you in advance for your solidarity and support.