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Union win for garment workers in Nicaragua

9 June, 2021Nicaraguan union NUPA has signed an agreement with Tegra Global, granting benefits to the 966 workers who will be out of work as the New Holland Apparel plant closes.

Tegra Global announced the closure of its New Holland Apparel plant and the termination of its 966 workers. The company claimed to comply with legal obligations and to provide the employees with additional benefits.

NUPA, part of FESITEX, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, 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. The agreement was signed following consultation with the workers, who voted by a majority to accept the deal.

FESITEX’s general secretary, Pedro Ortega, says:

“The agreement is a trade union win. It was achieved thanks to the unity shown by the New Holland workers, the sustained talks we held with Tegra and the unconditional support of the international organisations backing the Nicaraguan workers’ legitimate demands.

“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. We have achieved this thanks to international solidarity.”

In the agreement, Tegra pledges to:

  • Pay the 966 workers three full minimum wages without deductions or withholdings.
  • Pay their social security contributions until July, which will provide the workers with protection and health cover until September.
  • Resume its efforts to relocate employees to other firms and to organise job fairs.

NUPA, for its part, has pledged to actively support the company during the time it takes to conclude the production phase due to be completed within the next few weeks.

NUPA union representative Ileana González says:

“We were faced with serious socioeconomic hardships, having lost our jobs, so we decided to stand up for our rights with the help of the union. We thought it was a lost cause, because Tegra had already announced its withdrawal from Nicaragua. But we managed to hold talks with the company and to sign the agreement. We are very pleased with the results and international support played a crucial role.”

Marino Vani, IndustriALL regional secretary, says:

“This agreement is a very important step forward. We regret the closure, but appreciate Tegra Global’s openness to dialogue with the union and its efforts to meet the workers’ needs. We congratulate FESITEX, NUPA and its members, who mobilized and stood together to achieve the best possible agreement.”