Friday, 04 December 2009 10:38 News
The Clean Clothes Campaign have reported that in Amsterdam, yesterday two Triumph unions filed an OECD complaint against the Swiss multinational Triumph International
for laying off thousands of workers at its unionised factories in Thailand and the Philippines.
Triumph International, one of worlds leading lingerie manufacturers, failed to enter negotiations with the unions involved, and therefore violates the OECD guidelines for multinational
enterprises as well as ILO convention 158
. In the complaint, the unions reveal a hidden agenda of Triumph to get rid of its most outspoken workforce in both countries.
Since July this year, when Triumph announced the retrenchments of 1935 workers in Thailand and 1660 workers in the Philippines, more than a thousand workers in both countries have been picketing the factories and the Ministry of Labour in Thailand. "We demand the immediate reinstatement of the workers," said Isabelita dela Cruz, President of the New Unity of Workers in Triumph International (BPMTI), "in addition to a guarantee that Triumphs global restructuring plan does not result in massive retrenchments and relocation of Triumph workers worldwide, depriving workers of their union rights."
This Picture and VDO Clip is the production of "Try Arm" Underwear in
assemble of TITLU at the Ministry of Labour in Thailand.
New Unity of Workers in Triumph International (BPMTI)Philippines
"Although Triumph cites the global recession as a reason for downscaling production, it has over the last years expanded production in a non-unionised factory in Northern Thailand," says Jittra Cotshadet, consultant of the Triumph International Thailand Labour Union (TITLU). Ms. Cotshadet, former president of TITLU, was sacked last year by Triumph for her appearance on national television defending the right to freedom of expression. In the Philippines, Triumph sought to outsource production work to non-unionised workers. The Thai Triumph workers have not been paid separation payment as required by law and their collective bargaining agreement.
The coming weeks representatives of the unions are touring Europe, and will visit Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Belgium to participate in debates and public actions. On December 2nd they protested outside the Swiss Triumph headquarters after their request for a meeting with CEO and owner Markus Spiesshofer was declined.
While in Europe, the Triumph International Thailand Labor Union will also use this opportunity to promote the underwear produced under their own label at a make-shift factory at the grounds of the Ministry of Labour. This way the workers want to demonstrate their skills and determination to continue their protest.
Miss Isabelita dela Cruz, President of the Bagong Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Triumph International (BPMTI)
Background of the case
On June 29, Triumph's producer in Thailand, Body Fashion Thailand, announced that around half of its 4200 workers would be out of their jobs by the end of August. Earlier this year, another Thai Triumph producer, Worldwell Garment Company, was closed down on Labour Day (May 1), and the entire work force sent home without their last salaries or the legally-required severance compensations.
In the Philippines, 1660 garment workers will lost their jobs by the end of August when Triumph International (Philippines) Ltd. and Star Performance Inc. closed down. Neither in Thailand nor in the Philippines did the Triumph management conduct timely and transparent negotiations with the factory workers' unions as required by international labour standards.
Triumph cites the global recession as a major reason for downscaling their production. It is clear, however, that Triumph's actions are aimed at hampering the unions in their factories. They are closing those departments and those factories where the unions are strongest. At the same time, they are expanding a new factory in northern Thailand.
Workers unions in Thailand and the Philippines have been organizing picket lines and other forms of peaceful protest against these dishonest practises. We demand from Triumph International that they peruses any major restructuring of their factory operations in cooperation with the established factory unions, rescind the dismissals, disclose the full information that led to the planned retrenchments and closures, generally operate in line with ILO core conventions as well as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
Triumph has a history of ignoring labour-rights violations in the Asian factories where they outsource the production of their luxury lifestyle products. Last year, the Swiss multinational was accused of harassing union leaders in the same factories: see //www.cleanclothes.org/triumph-union-continues-fight-for-fairness
Background of the delegation members
Miss Melona R. Daclan, Campaign Director of the Triumph Workers Struggle and Defend Job Philippines
Melona R. Daclan (30) is the Campaign Director of Defend Job Philippines, the campaign center that was created and initiated by the Triumph Union in the Philippines along with various workers union/alliances, peoples organization and advocacy institutions to protest against unjust and inhumane lay-offs, union busting, miserable working conditions and different forms of attacks to union and workers rights at the time of the current global economic crisis. Daclan also heads the Defend Job Philippines research and documentation center and facilitates Round Table Discussions with workers. In addition she is an education officer and lecturer of various workers and ESCR (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) issues. Recently, she volunteered as an official translator to the International Labor Organization High Level Mission to the Philippines that took place last September, 2009.
Melona started as a student leader in the 90s, served as President of Adamson University Student Government in year 2000-2001. She became the Chairperson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines-National Capital Region and an active leader of the Union of Catholic Student Council on 2002-2005. She also serves as a Campaign Director of Peoples Caravan for Truth, Justice and Change on 2008-2009; an education campaign supported by the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines against government and corporate corruption.
Before she became the campaign and advocacy coordinator of the Triumph International workers, she helped in organizing workers union and urban poor organizations.
Isabelita dela Cruz started working at Triumph International Philippines Inc. (TIPI) after she graduated her secondary education in 1983. That time she was studying at night and working in Triumph at daytime. In 1985 she was one of the 475 workers laid off by TIPI. After 2 years of continuous struggle she was able to return to work on 1987, along with other workers. It was the reason why she decided to be active in organizing other workers and students as well. She became an active shop-steward and Union grievance committee member from 1987 up to 2003. In 2003 she became Union board member until 2005 and was elected Union President on January 2006 up to the time Triumph declared its closure.
BPMTI - Independent/ New Unity of Workers in Triumph International Philippines
The Union was established and registered in 1976. At that time It had more than 1,000 members, which grew to more than 2,000 when Triumph laid off 475 employees in 1985. The union concluded their first successful Collective Bargaining Agreement in 1977, and a total of 11 CBAs were achieved up to 2008 prior to the announcement of the closure of the company. We staged six times collective mass actions and/or strikes, twice for CBA deadlock, and another four on other issues including the 4 months strike during the mass lay- offs. More than 50 active members and officers have been illegally dismissed by Triumph since the Union was established. Among them all 22 Union officers dismissed during the 1999 CBA deadlock strike. This case is still pending at the Supreme Court.Miss Tanyatorn Srithavornpat, vice-president Triumph International Thailand Labour Union
Tanyatorn Srithavornpat has been working for Body Fashion Thailand (the Triumph International subsidiary) since 1993. In 2000 she was elected member of the unions committee: from 2000 till 2004 as union accountant, and from 2006 till 2007 as labour protection staff. Since 2008 she is elected vice president. On 29 June 2009, the company informed her about her dismissal together with 15 members of the unions sub-committee, by claiming that this was part of the companys restructuring plan. The court will give a verdict on the case of their dismissal on 26 November 2009. Her motto is to get benefits to all workers beyond self-interest, and that the company has to operate in line with its code of conduct.
The Triumph International Thailand Labor Union was founded in 1980, and is comprised solely of women workers. TITLU is widely recognized throughout the Thai labour movement for its active participation in many campaigns and actions advocating women rights. Every year, members have led successful street rallies on International Womens Day and May Day. Past and current TITLU leaders have seen many successes in their CBA demands with Triumphs management over the course of the unions thirty-year history. On the other hand, many leaders have also been dismissed or forced to resign for their active participation in the union during this same period of time.Miss Jittra Cotshadet, consultant of TITLU
Jittra Cotshadet (37) has been working for Body Fashion Thailand at the swimwear department since January 6, 1993. On July 29, 2008 she was dismissed. The company claimed that her appearance on the TV show wearing a T-shirt with the text Thinking differently is not a crime
, damaged the reputation of the company. Following upon her dismissal, 3,000 workers went on 46 days
strike demanding the company to reinstate Jittra. Nevertheless, on November 27 2008, the court approved her dismissal at the companys request.
Cotshadet became member of the trade union after four months working at Body Fashion Thailand. In 1994 she became member of the trade union committee: