One of Peru’s largest and most profitable textile and clothing companies, Hilandería de Algodón Peruana (Hialpesa) called in the police on Monday to prevent union members from entering the factory after they refused to take part in the charade of signing sham employment contracts.
The 136 workers took the drastic decision to refuse to sign the contracts after the labour authorities issued a landmark ruling in September invalidating 1,008 short-term employment contracts. Legally, this means the workers automatically become permanent, but the company kicked the decision into the long grass by engaging in yet another round of endless and pointless legal appeals.
After pursuing their case through legal and government channels for four years, the workers, who are members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate FNTTP, told their employer they were not prepared to sign away their newly-acquired rights through dud short-term contracts. The company’s response was a blunt: ‘if you don’t sign, you don’t work’!
Some of the brands sourcing from Hialpesa were among the companies that took the unusual step earlier this year of asking the government to repeal the labour legislation governing ‘non traditional exports’, which they said poses an obstacle to the proper implementation of their codes of conduct.
IndustriALLis now seeking the urgent intervention of Peruvian Labour Minister Nancy Laos and of brands and retailers sourcing from Hialpesa to ensure that the union members are allowed to return to work and that the ministry ruling is upheld.