December 21, 2007
Workers at the Vaqueros Navarra jean factory in Tehuacan, Mexico who voted to be represented by the independent September 19 Union are facing new stumbling blocks as they struggle to secure their victory.
On December 5, management informed the workers that the factory would be closed early for the holiday break due to a lack of orders, and they would not be called back until January 22. The factory closed on December 7. This has provoked fear among the workers that the "lack of orders" will be used as a pretext to close the factory permanently in order to eliminate the union.
Research by the Human and Labour Rights Commission of the Tehuacan Valley has revealed that other Grupo Navarra factories in the area making similar products are remaining open until December 24 and reopening on January 7.
The Commission also reports that Vaqueros Navarra management has been visiting workers in their communities trying to convince them to resign, accept their severance pay, and give up their struggle. Workers are reportedly being told that the factory will not reopen in January as had been promised.
On December 20, the local president of the maquila industry association was quoted in the local press stating that the Vaqueros Navarra factory will be closed permanently. Both the September 19 Union and the Commission responded that the president’s statement is false, because the company has made no announcement to this effect.
Meanwhile, Puebla state labour authorities are delaying certifying the vote in favour of the September 19 Union. At a December 10 hearing in the City of Puebla, the Conciliation and Arbitration Board postponed ruling on the vote under the pretext that it had not yet received the necessary documentation on the results of the vote from the local board in Tehuacan. The next hearing is scheduled to take place on January 11.
To prevent this precedent-setting victory from being stolen from the workers, the September 10 Union, the Commission and MSN are calling on all brands using any Grupo Navarra factories to direct new orders to the Vaqueros Navarra facility.
MSN is also calling on the brands to demand that Grupo Navarra accept and negotiate with the new union and publicly clarify when the factory will be reopened.