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Take action in solidarity with Mexican Bata workers

18 February, 2013Send letters of solidarity to a group of workers in Mexico at Calzado Sandak, a subsidiary of the Bata Shoe Company, which attempted eighteen months ago to close its unionized plant illegally and shift production to homeworkers or small workshops.

The Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de Calzado Sandak is standing firm. It is demanding that the plant reopen, and for the past eighteen months has kept watch outside the factory, a Bata plant in Tlaxcala in the east of Mexico, day and night to prevent the removal of the machinery. Despite the immense hardships they face, these brave union members are determined to continue their struggle. Send them your messages of solidarity from around the world and let them know they do not struggle alone.

The problems at Calzado Sandak started in December 2010, with what at first appeared to be good news: the company offered to engage in negotiations over wages and piece rates without waiting for the expiry of the CBA.  But when the company then locked out half the workforce and forced workers to resign in order to collect unpaid wages, it became clear that the pay increases had been an attempt to justify reducing operations in the face of rising labour costs.

In July 2011, just two weeks after signing an agreement with the union on job security, the company locked out the remaining workers, leaving two weeks wages unpaid and offering workers the choice of working from home or collecting severance. Bata shoes are now being made by homeworkers and in small workshops in substandard conditions, including the use of child labour.

The company chose to ignore the law, which would have required it to obtain prior approval from the labour authorities based on an examination of the company’s performance and an assessment of whether the closure was justified.

Union members are holding firm in demanding the reopening of the plant. Many of them are ill, as a result of years of using toxic substances without protection, and they have now been denied medical attention because the company has cut off their social security.

This has had tragic consequences. In August one of the striking workers María Luisa Hernández Moreno, a diabetic, was knocked about by a security guard. She never recovered, and without medical attention her health deteriorated. Six weeks later she was dead. 

The union is demanding that Calzado Sendak reopen and negotiate in good faith with the union, and that until that happens the company continue its social security contributions. IndustriALL Global Union fully supports those demands.

Bata is also accused of grave violations of trade union rights of its employees in Malaysia, Kenya and South Africa.

Send your message of solidarity to the workers by email from this webpage or post a video message in support on youtube. Contact [email protected] for more information.