IndustriALL leaders with the SUTCS delegation at the IndustriALL headquarters in Geneva in June 2016.

Epifanio Garcia Carillo has led a five-year battle for the rights of former Bata workers at Sandak, Mexico.

Protestors outside the Sandak factory in Tlaxcala, Mexico in 2015.

Victory at last for Bata workers in Mexico

28.07.2016

IndustriALL Global Union is celebrating the end of a five-year conflict as the Sandak-Bata workers’ union has finally reached an acceptable agreement with Calzado Sandak, a Mexican subsidiary of the Swiss-headquartered multinational shoe company, Bata. 

After international pressure from IndustriALL and Swiss affiliate, UNIA, a meeting was convened on 30 June in Mexico between the Sandak-Bata union, SUTCS, and Tim Jude, the international Vice President of Bata, to negotiate a fair solution for the 59 workers who continued to demand their rights after Bata closed their plant in Tlaxcala, Mexico in 2012, dismissing 450 workers.

During the meeting, Sandak agreed to recognize the right of the remaining 59 union members to receive 55 per cent of lost salaries for the last five years, plus the 10 per cent of costs to terminate the collective agreement and close down the factory, as well as 2 per cent of the union dues. Crucially, the agreement also puts an end to the penal cases Sandak had processed against nine executive committee members of SUTCS.

The agreement comes after Epifanio Garcia Carillo from SUTCS led a Sandak delegation to Switzerland to try to pressure Bata to meet with them, but they were not received. While in the country they met with UNIA, which represents Bata workers in Switzerland (and where Bata has fired 175 workers this year), and also with IndustriALL at its headquarters in Geneva for extensive discussions about how to come to an acceptable agreement with Bata.

For more than five years, IndustriALL and affiliates worldwide have consistently supported the SUTCS workers’ fight and have denounced their situation to the Committee of Application of Standards and illustrated their case in the complaint 2694 presented to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

In particular, one serious issue denounced in IndustriALL’s ILO complaint, is the collusion between the company and the Tlaxcala State authorities, that during all these years, pressured the workers to receive a miserable pay-off and to give up their struggle.

Fernando Lopes IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary says:

“This is a big victory. Besides the legal severance payments, the company has agreed to pay 55 per cent of salaries for the past five years plus other benefits. IndustriALL will continue monitoring Bata operations worldwide to make sure that there are no more violations. SUTCS and their Mexican and International allies have a lot to celebrate.”