RPP interview
RPP interview

Solidarity with Peruvian textile workers

22.05.2013

IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina has visited Lima to lobby for the repeal of legislation which permits the unlimited use of short-term employment contracts in the textile and garment export sector.

On 13 May, IndustriALL General Secretary, Jyki Raina met with employers, government officials and lawmakers to convey the message that the law on non-traditional exports which discriminates against textile workers is totally unacceptable.

In a series of meetings, Raina argued that decree 22342, which was adopted in 1978 to promote a nascent industry, has become counter-productive. The industry has grown accustomed to surviving off a subsidy from its workers in the form of low wages, instead of working to improve efficiency and innovation.

In the past thirty-five years the industry has grown by 2,000 percent, yet garment workers in this highly profitable sector are worse off than ever,  sometimes working up to fourteen hours a day to earn a minimum wage which represents only a quarter of what they need to survive.

Peru’s garment export industry is like a 35-year old adult whose parents insist on treating it like a small child – clearly not a healthy situation. It’s time for the industry to grow up and stand on its own two feet!

said Raina.

By denying textile and garment workers their full rights, Peru has lowered itself to the level of a handful of countries, such as Bangladesh, which have adopted laws that discriminate against textile workers.

The law is so egregious that a number of brands and retailers have taken the unusual step of urging the government to support its repeal. 

However, a draft bill introduced over a year ago to ensure equal rights for textile and garment workers continues languish in the Congressional Labour Committee as a result of pressure from employers to maintain the status quo.

Jyrki Raina expressed the full support of IndustriALL Global Union to the textile federations fighting for justice for workers in the sector.  He also met with all affiliates and potential affiliates in order to discuss ways of strengthening union power in Peru.