Evergreen maquila workers continue factory occupation

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"Suspended" workers at the Evergreen Maquila in San Salvador showed no signs of abandoning their round-the-clock occupation of the Evergreen facility, which entered its fifth week. In a bald effort to sack workers without pay or traditional end-of-year bonuses, the company claimed it had to "suspend" their workforce for lack of orders to fill. Then Evergreen moved its equipment to a nearby warehouse and began operations with a new workforce, under a different name. Workers have been demanding that the Ministry of Labor hold Evergreen accountable for cutting and running on workers and violating workers' rights.

At a hearing on the case before the Labor Commission of the Legislative Assembly, the Ministry of Labor assured the Commission that it was doing everything it could to resolve the problem. However, fired maquila workers have not received severance pay or their legally-entitled benefits. Although their first demand is to be reinstated, many workers - despite the lack of employment - expressed that either they be hired under a new contract or will find other jobs because labor conditions were too precarious.

Evergreen forced workers to work unpaid overtime, did not pay their Social Security and pensions as mandated by law, and often paid workers several weeks late. Worker representatives said that management had used the "suspension" argument before, but that workers didn't complain then out of economic necessity. In the shadow of the looming CAFTA implementation, the Ministry of Labor's inaction on the Evergreen case sends a message that El Salvador is open for corporate profits to the detriment of labor rights. Evergreen maquila workers, however, are determined to keep up their fight.

To support the workers' demands by sending a letter of support, see http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/evergreen

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