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Wal-Mart factory workers assaulted, fired for going on strike

November 1, 2006

Workers producing clothes for Wal-Mart at the Korean-owned Chong Won Fashion garment factory in the Philippines desperately need your support to put a stop to their employers' attempt to destroy their union through violence, mass firings and intimidation.

On September 27, a combined force of municipal and free trade zone police and private security guards attacked the strikers who were peacefully picketing outside the factory gates as the police escorted scab replacement workers into the factory. According the Philippine Workers' Assistance Centre (WAC), 22 union members were injured in the attack.

This is the second police assault on the picket line since workers walked off the job on September 25 to protest their employers' refusal to sit down with their union to negotiate a first collective bargaining agreement. According to WAC, at least 10 workers were injured in the first police assault, which took place shortly after they set up their picket line as the newly hired replacement workers began arriving for work.

That afternoon, WAC received information that all the striking workers were going to be fired. According to WAC, at least 66 workers have already been served termination notices. The free trade zone police are also reportedly blocking food supplies from reaching the striking workers in an apparent attempt to starve them out.

Wal-Mart is the major buyer in the factory. Although Wal-Mart carried out an audit of the factory on September 20, 2006, it failed to live up to its commitment to meet with WAC to hear its side of the story, as requested by MSN, or to put sufficient pressure on its supplier to cease all harassment, discrimination and abuse of union members.

One day before the audit, management personnel reportedly circulated and pressured workers to sign a document condemning their union for protesting outside the factory.

Although Wal-Mart has never been a friend of unions, its revised code of conduct requires its suppliers to respect their employees' legal right to freely associate with any organization of their choosing and to not "obstruct or prevent such legitimate activities."

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