(go here for an update on the situation)
Two of El Salvador’s most progressive unions, the Telecommunications Workers’ Industrial Union (SITCOM) and the AVX-Kyocera Plant Workers’ Union (SITRAVX), have recently had their legal status revoked by the Ministry of Labor after an unjust decision by the Labor Court. Though both unions have filed appeals with the Supreme Court the Labor Court’s decision has already had negative effects, with over 100 SITCOM union members being fired already.
Unfortunately, this decision suggests that members of the Funes Administration are showing signs of vulnerability to big business interests such as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Slim owns the largest telecommunications company in El Salvador, América Móvil, where SITCOM has an affiliate. Union leaders have said that Slim and his corporate henchmen are vying to push the SITCOM local out of América Móvil, just as the owners of AVX-Kyocera, which makes cell phone chips, have been trying for years to break the SITRAVX union.
Our allies have called on us to mobilize international support before Friday October 7th, when the unions and their allies will march on the Ministry of Labor demanding to be recertified.
Send an email and make a call RIGHT NOW!!
1. Send an email to Humberto Centeno, the Minster of Labor, demanding that he recertify both unions!
2. If you speak Spanish, please call the office of Humberto Centeno and use the call script below! 011-503-2259-3715
Buen día / Buenas tardes,
Mi nombre es ___ y llamo para expresar mi indignación sobre la decisión del Ministerio de Trabajo a acatar a resoluciones de la Cámara Primera de lo Laboral y cancelar los sindicatos SITCOM y SITRAVX, pese a conocer que dichas resoluciones no se basaron en la legalidad, fueron plagadas de corrupción, son una violación del derecho a la libre sindicación, un derecho garantizado por la Constitución de la República y por los Convenios 87 y 98 de la OIT, y existen dos amparos en la Corte Suprema de la Justicia contra esas resoluciones.
Según el Código de Trabajo salvadoreño, una empresa NO PUEDE PROMOVER la disolución de un sindicato, son sus miembros los únicos autorizados para dicho procedimiento. Esto es un PRINCIPIO BÁSICO DE LA LIBERTAD SINDICAL.
Por lo tanto, le animo fervientemente al señor Ministro a que ADMITA LOS RECURSOS DE REVOCATORIA PRESENTADOS POR SITCOM Y SITRAVX y que SE ATENGA EN EL FUTURO A LO QUE ESTABLEZCA LA CORTE SUPREMA DE JUSTICIA SOBRE ESTOS CASOS. Como miembro de la comunidad internacional, daré seguimiento a las acciones del Ministerio de Trabajo con respeto a estos casos y informaré a los funcionarios públicos de mi país y a mi comunidad sobre los resultados.
Muchas gracias y feliz día.
Background on the unions’ struggle for legal recognition
SITCOM was formed as an industrial union in 2003 by unions at four different telecommunications companies. Despite meeting legal requirements from the beginning, they fought for six years to receive official recognition and credentials from the Ministry of Labor. Workers at the AVX-Kyocera electronic components assembly plant formed SITRAVX in 2007 but also had to fight for two years to obtain its credentials from the Ministry of Labor.
Shortly after SITCOM and SITRAVX received credentials in 2009, the telecommunications company CTE-Telecom Claro (which is a subsidiary of América Móvil, owned the Mexican billionaire and richest man in the world Carlos Slim) and AVX-Kyocera filed separate complaints in the country’s Labor Courts, calling for the decertification of the two unions. In both cases, the magistrates decided in favor of the unions; however, both companies then appealed the decisions to the First Labor Chamber.
The First Labor Chamber, whose magistrates have been denounced for corruption by the Salvadoran Union Front (FSS), reversed the decisions and issued orders for the decertification of both SITCOM and SITRAVX. SITRAVX President Marielos de León reports, “There are magistrates in the First Labor Chamber who have clear conflicts of interest. For example, the son of Magistrate Wilfrido Arnoldo Sanchez Campos is a lawyer at the firm that represents many transnational corporations, including AVX-Kyocera and América Móvil.”
On September 9, the Ministry of Labor decided to comply with the ruling of the First Labor Chamber and decertify both unions, even though both unions had already appealed to the Supreme Court. This surprising turn of events raises serious concerns that the Ministry of Labor, under recently-appointed Minsister Humberto Centeno, will violate its mission by protecting the interests of corporations over the interests of the workers.
Thank you for taking action to support the union movement in El Salvador. The struggle continues!