National and international solidarity, combined with intervention by global brands, played an important role in encouraging the Korean clothing company Willbes & Co to reinstate 15 workers who were dismissed for exercising their right to organize.
IndustriALL Global Union wrote to the mother company, the brands supplied by Willbes and the Minister of Labour, calling on the company to reinstate the workers who were no longer being paid and to work with the union to end the climate of fear that had been created. The national council of unions affiliated to IndustriALL in the country also expressed its solidarity.
"We feel the strength and solidarity of IndustriALL Global Union’s support for unionizing workers,"
said Carlos Reyes, president of the National Union of Free Trade Zone Workers (UNATRAZONAS, affiliated to IndustriALL).
The clothing factory workers were dismissed at the start of August, a few days after notifying company managers of the creation of a steering committee to form a union at the company, the Willbes Dominicana Barahona Free Trade Zone Union (SITRAWILLBES), affiliated to UNATRAZONAS.
Finally, in the early hours of 21 August, the company reinstated all members of the steering committee to their jobs, including three leaders, who had, at the company’s insistence, accepted redundancy payments. The company agreed to respect the freedom of association.
Laura Carter, assistant regional secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean and regional officer for the textile sector said the following about the workers’ victory:
“This is the result of workers’ courage and national and international solidarity of the trade union movement and other institutions, combined with the intervention of global brands to promote responsible employment in their supply chains. IndustriALL will closely accompany efforts to consolidate the union, negotiate a collective agreement and establish positive labour relations at the company”.