14 December, 2021The National Federation of Unions of the Textile, Garment, Leather and Footwear Industries (FESITEX) in Nicaragua organize workers in textile, garment, leather and footwear companies at national level. FESITEX currently centres its attention on Nicaragua’s Free Trade Zones, organizing the so-called maquila workers. Some of the union’s main issues are negotiating ratification of ILO C190 and reform of the social security law.
From Global Worker No. 2 November 2021
By representing, organizing and defending the rights and interests of the maquila workers in Nicaragua, its principal remit is to encourage and strengthen unity of action by trade unions. The union’s main policies are aimed at developing a policy of alliances, affiliation and exchange and solidarity in trade union, political and party matters, at both national and international level.
Training, communication and advocacy with a gender perspective are guiding principles in the process of growth and strengthening of trade unions in the federation of unions of the textile industries. The Federation proposes to incorporate and put into practice a comprehensive strategy with a gender perspective and inclusion of the LGBTIQ + population in union structures. The last three years have seen the implementation of a campaign to eradicate violence and harassment in the workplace, aiming to create mechanisms to prevent it and to influence the government to ratify ILO Convention 190.
Training for union leaders, legal advice, contact networks, regional and international exchange workshops and recruitment campaigns are also important activities.
“21 per cent of union leaders in the sector are young people under 30. As an incentive, FESITEX sets out motivating trade union activity, which promotes and encourages cultural and social activities that go beyond the workplace,”
says FESITEX general secretary, Pedro Ortega Méndez.
Earlier this year, garment manufacturer Tegra Global announced the closure of its New Holland Apparel plant and the termination of its 966 workers. NUPA, part of FESITEX, affiliated to IndustriALL, called for talks with Tegra Global to secure additional benefits for the workers.
After three days of negotiation between a committee of local and global Tegra directors and a union committee made up of representatives from NUPA, FESITEX and IndustriALL, a settlement was reached on 4 June.
“This win will give strength to the struggle of Central American textile workers and build working class consciousness in the region. We have shown that, as long as we are united and organized, we can win economic and social demands, even if the company is leaving the country,”
says Pedro Ortega Méndez.
FESITEX, established in 1990, is affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union and represents 10,000 members through 16 local unions.