Topy Top mass sacking sparks Zara protests call

Striking Topy Top workers demonstrate in 2009

The mass sacking of 35 trade union organisers at Topy Top, Peru's most profitable textiles exporter, has prompted a callout for worldwide protests against near slave-labour conditions at the firm's factories.

Campaigning publication Periodico Humanidad has published a callout through the International Workers Association for actions to be taken at the outlets of transnational fashion chain Zara, one of Topy Top's biggest clients, on October 9th.

The situation for workers in the country's textile sector is a cause for serious concern, according to labour rights groups. Despite government claims that neo-liberal reforms have increased employment and the export of textile products in recent years, Peruvian textile workers are some of the country's lowest-paid and face some of the worst working conditions of any textile labour force worldwide.

Peruvian textile workers say they are routinely bullied and "brutally harrassed" by their employers and that legal systems favouring the bosses have led to their working day reaching more than 12 hours in some cases. Powerful groups in the sector, such as the Flores family who own Topy Top, have been accused of systematically undermining workers' rights.

Poor conditions, described in graphic detail in the 2008 interview below, led to strike action in 2009 against Law 2242 which exempts textile exporters from offering long-term contracts to staff, allowing them to end anyone's employment within two months without having to state a reason.

Accusations that the law was damaging the right to free association and leading to super-exploitation is backed up by a 2008 study from the Fair Labor Association which found that:

- Workers were afraid to join a union for fear of retaliation
- The company had no health and safety policy and did not provide adequate safety equipment or clothing
- The company was unable to demonstrate that it had any protections against the use of child labour
- Workers were found to regularly work over 60 hours a week and in in severe cases up to 77 hours.

Two years on from the group's damning report, which recommended heavy legal intervention and sparked further calls for the repeal of Law 2242, campaigners say little has changed and Topy Top's actions are just the tip of the iceberg.

Periodico Humanidad wrote:
A fundamental right in all 'modern democracies' is to organise, it's a shame the owners of Topy Top don't agree with this. These gentlemen constantly harass labour organisers and on May 1st arbitrarily dismissed all unionised workers at the factory, secure that the passivity and possible complicity of a corrupt government would allow them to get away with it.

But their anti-union drive, in which 35 union workers were thrown out on the streets and replaced without any reasons given, is a tactical blunder.

Do not permit these illegal acts from the likes of the Flores family, who are favored by outdated working arrangements (brought in by the 1920s dictator Morales Bermúdez) - they must be amended without further delay.

We are asking consumers to show solidarity with the workers of Topy Top and with our fight in the textile industry in general.

Every time you buy an item from Zara it is produced at a cost of sacrifice and the brazen super-exploitation of hundreds of workers, where we do not receive even the most basic minimum earnings and are denied the right to unionise. Many of these workers are young and should be treated with dignity, not with systematic harassment and criminal tactics from a totalitarian regime.

Posted By

Rob Ray
Oct 6 2010 23:24

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Rob Ray
Oct 6 2010 23:39

Edit: Ta, I've also done one other change if that can be approved, last one I promise wink.

Caiman del Barrio
Oct 6 2010 23:40
akai
Oct 7 2010 12:52

Please take note that firings also occured in the past, starting a few years ago and there were almost 200 unionists sacked.

This led some companies like the Gap to "show their concern" over the situation in Topy Top but in 2007 they came to the conclusion that "all was well" in the company.

Topy Top has, in the meanwhile, become the country's leading textile importer and has this year seen a healthy growth in profits.

cnt-ait
Oct 7 2010 13:57

Here is a possible pamphlet text in several languages:
--
TO THE PUBLIC AND CONSUMERS OF ZARA

* Exploitation in Topy, a top supplier for ZARA *

The reality of the workers in the textile sector is currently dramatic and troubling. Despite the siren calls and the triumphalism of the last governments, with respect to the increase in productive employment and textile products in recent years, textile workers are the worst paid of the Economically Active Population and the most affected by the brutal onslaught of local entrepeneurs (with work shifts exceeding 12 hours in some cases and starvation wages). Powerful groups in the industry - such as the Flores Conislia family - violate and undermine the dignity and fundamental rights of Topy Top workers. A fundamental right in any "modern democracy", such as the right to unionize, is an affront to the owners of Topy Top. These people are systematically harrassing and arbitrarily firing all unionized workers - like on last May Day. The current corrupt government is passive and inert (perhaps complicit?) regarding this. Using blatant anti-union tactics, 35 workers were thrown into the street last May, without any reasons to justify this; they have been replaced.

Let us not allow these crimes and illegal actions committed by the Flores Conislia group and others who are favoured by an outdated labour system (which comes from the Morales Bermúdez dictatorship), which should be ammended without further delay.

We urge consumers to express their solidarity with the workers of Topy Top and textile workers in general.

* Consumer: think each time that you buy something in ZARA, it was produced at the expense of the sacrifice and shameless exploitation of hundreds of workers, who are not given basic social benefits such as profit sharing bonuses, CTS (severance pay) and whose right to unionize is violated. Many of these workers are young people who deserve to be treated with dignity, without systematic harrassment and criminal anti-labour tactics characteristic of totalitarian regimes. *

--
Ausbeutung bei Topy Top in Peru: ein wirklicher Top-Zulieferer von ZARA

Die Wirklichkeit der Arbeiter_innen in der Textilbranche ist im Moment dramatisch und ärgerlich zugleich. Trotz des triumphalen Sirenengeheuls der letzten Regierung in den vergangenen Jahren über die Erhöhung der Beschäftigungs- und Produktionszahlen in der Textilindustrie, werden die Textilarbeiter_innen am schlechtesten bezahlt und sind von der brutalen Ausbeutung regionaler Unternehmen – Arbeitsschichten, die manchmal über 12 Stunden übertreffen und Hungerlöhne – am häufigsten betroffen. Mächtige Unternehmensgruppen, wie die Flores Conisilia Gruppe, untergraben die Ehre und die fundamentalen Rechte der Topy Top Arbeiter_innen. So bedeutet das in allen modernen Demokratien geltende Recht auf Bildung einer Gewerkschaft für die Unternehmensleitung von Topy Top einen Affront. Gewerkschaftlich organisierte Arbeiter_innen werden von ihnen systematisch benachteiligen oder gezielt entlassen, wie das am vergangenen 1. Mai der Fall war. Mit einer offenkundigen Anti-Gewerkschafts Taktik wurden 35 Arbeiter_innen ohne jede Rechtfertigung entlassen und danach wieder ersetzt. Die aktuelle korrupte Regierung hat sich zu diesem Vorfall passiv verhalten. Herrscht hier etwa Komplizenschaft?

Lasst uns diese Straftaten und illegalen Aktionen der Flores Conislia Gruppe und Anderer, die ein veraltetes Arbeitsystem favorisieren, das noch aus der Zeit der Morales Bermúdes Diktatur stammt, so schnell es geht zur Rechenschaft ziehen.

Wir rufen die Konsument_innen zur Solidarität mit den Arbeiter_innen von Topy Top und allen Textilarbeiter_innen auf. Immer wenn du etwas von ZARA kaufst, denke an die Opfer und die schamlose Ausbeutung hunderter von Arbeiter_innen. Man beteiligt sie weder an den Gewinnen des Unternehmens; sie erhalten bei einer Kündigung keine finanziellen Entschädigungen und das Recht auf Gewerkschaft wird ihnen genauso wenig gewährt. Viele dieser Arbeiter_innen sind junge Leute, die es verdient haben mit Ehre und ohne Benachteiligung behandelt zu werden. Die entlassenen Arbeiter_innen sind Opfer einer Anti-Gewerkschaftstaktik, die charakteristisch für totalitäre Regime ist.

--

A LA OPINIÓN PUBLICA Y A LOS CONSUMIDORES DE ZARA

La realidad de los trabajadores y las trabajadoras del sector textil es actualmente dramática y preocupante. A pesar de los cantos de sirena y del triunfalismo de los últimos gobiernos de turno, con respecto al aumento del empleo productivo y de las exportaciones de productos textiles en los últimos años, los trabajadores textiles son los peores pagados de la PEA (Población Económicamente Activa) y los más afectados por la arremetida brutal de los empresarios nativos (con turnos de trabajo de más de doce horas en algunos casos y salarios de hambre). Grupos poderosos del sector –como la familia Flores Conisllia- vulneran y atentan contra la dignidad y derechos fundamentales de los trabajadores de Topy Top. Un derecho primordial en toda “democracia moderna” como el de sindicalización, es una afrenta para los dueños de Topy Top. Estos señores vienen acosando sistemáticamente y despidiendo arbitrariamente –como el pasado 1° de mayo - a todo trabajador sindicalizado, ante la pasividad e inercia (¿complicidad?) del corrupto gobierno actual. En una burda táctica antisindical, 35 trabajadores del sindicato fueron echados a la calle el pasado mayo, sin motivos que justifiquen este acto y que hasta la fecha hayan sido repuestos.
No permitamos estos hechos delictivos e ilegales del grupo Flores Conisllia y otros, quienes se ven favorecidos de lejos por un régimen laboral obsoleto (que viene de la dictadura de Morales Bermúdez) que debe ser modificado sin mayor dilación.

Instamos a los consumidores a solidarizarse con los trabajadores de Topy Top y del sector textil en general.
USUARIO piensa que cada vez que compras un artículo de la cadena Topy Top, éste es producido a costa del sacrificio y sobre explotación descarada de cientos de trabajadores, a los que no se les reconoce beneficios sociales básicos como utilidades, CTS y se les vulnera el derecho a sindicalizarse. Muchos de estos trabajadores son jóvenes que merecen un trato digno, sin acoso sistemático y tácticas anti laborales criminales, propias de regímenes totalitarios.

--

A L'OPINION PUBLIQUE ET AUX CONSOMMATEURS

Explotation chez Topy Top fournisseur de ZARA

La réalité des travailleurs et travailleuses du secteur textil est actuellement dramatique et préocupante. Malgré les chants des sirènes et le triomphalisme des derniers gouvernements en cours, par rapport à l'augmentation de l'emploi productif et des exportations de produits textils ces dernieres années, les travailleurs sont les moins payés de la PEA (Population Economiquement Active) et les plus affectés par le harcelement brutal des employeurs natifs (avec des journée de travail de plus de douze heures dans certains cas et des salaires de misère). Des groupes puissants du secteur –comme la famille Flores Conisllia- vulnérabilisent y attentent contre la dignité et  les droits fondamentaux des travailleurs de Topy Top. Un droit primordial dans toutes "democracie moderne” comme celui de se syndiquer, c'est une  honte pour les proprietaires de Topy Top. Ces messieurs qui viennent constamment harceler et licencient arbitrairement –comme le dernier 1° mai- tout travailleur syndiqué, face à la passivité et l'inercie (¿complicité?) du corrompu gouvernement actuel. Lors d'une bourde tactique antisyndical, 35 travailleurs du syndicat furent expulsé à la rue ce dernier mois de mai, sans motifs qui justifient cet acte et qui depuis la date aient été remplacés.
Ne permitont pas ces actes delictifs et illegaux du groupe Flores Conisllia et autres, qui se voient favorisés de loin par un régime de travail obsolète (qui vient de la dictadure de Morales Bermúdez) qui doit être modifié sans plus attendre.
Nous demandons aux consommateurs de se solidariser avec les travailleur de Topitop et du secteur textil en general.
UTILISATEUR pense que chaque fois que tu achètes un article chez ZARA, ce dernier est produit au coût du sacrifice et de la surexplotation éhontée de centaines de travailleurs, auquels on ne reconnait pas le moindre benefice social basique comme la moindre utilité, CTS et on leur enlève le droit de se syndicaliser. Beaucoup de ces travailleurs sont jeunes et méritent un traitement digne, sans harcèlement systèmatique et tactique antitravail criminelles, propres d'un régime totalitaire.

--

send solidarity actions to periodicohumanidad@gmail.com

Joseph Kay
Oct 7 2010 14:30

are there any demands? reinstatement? compensation? respect for the right to organise etc?

Rob Ray
Oct 7 2010 14:51

Well in specific terms the right to organise, the repeal of of Law 2242 and improvements to working conditions would seem fair demands. I have just found a list of demands from February this year, shortly before the sackings, to which reinstatement of the 35 could probably be added:

- No dismissal of the Topy Top union's Secretary General (who was sacked for "gross misconduct" after he helped organise a sit-in protest over reductions to overtime payments). The name comes up as William Pray on this March article, I'm assuming that's the same guy in the video, who's listed as William Oye.
- Reinstate full overtime pay
- Respect the right to Sunday rest and family life
- End the Employment Contracts for non-traditional export (the "special circumstances" contracts which time out every two months, allowing the sector to grow at the expense of turning it into a neo-liberal haven of super-exploitation).
- Repeal Section 22342 DL 32, 33 and 34! (presumably this is what I picked up on as Law 2242, the specific legislation which allows the contracts)
- Implement an eight hour day and increase wages

akai
Oct 7 2010 20:04

Comrades, despite the fact that these are the union's demands, a few comments:

Any demand for reinstatement has to be for all 35 workers. According to some report I read, only 30 of them were union members - but this needs to be clarified and, in the end is not important. There is no way, from our point of view, to limit this to the union leader.

(BTW, the person in the interview is WIlliam Ore. There may be a mistake (typo) since some things I have read also refer to a Percy Ore, who may be a relative and is definitely a second person.)

Further, as the demand to repeal an act does not lie within the competence of Topy Top, that demand would have to go elsewhere.

So it would be good to set straight which demands should go to Zara and which to Topy Top. We are writing something and will consult Humanidad on it. We also think it would be helpful to do one of our protest mail pages again, but we don't know if we will manage it by Saturday.

If the comrades in Peru like our letter to Zara and Topy Top, we can also send it here as an example because we think that letters should be sent to management in addition to the campaign with consumers. Also, we think if we would like to make a serious campaign with consumers, the action needs to involve them, for example giving them a way to join in by sending letters or perhaps forming a FB group.

kkdvaca
Oct 7 2010 20:10

Crazi to see ZARA in Peru.

kkdvaca
Oct 7 2010 20:12

Companies working with Topy Top:

The Gap Inc.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Dillards Inc.
Gear For Sport
Urban Outfitters
Champion
Broder Bros Co. DBA Alpha Shit Co.
Lucky Brand
Dicks Sporting Goods
Isaac Morris LTD
Zara
Wear me Apparel Corp.
Jones Apparel Group. USA Inc.
Forus S.A.
Cetco S.A.

Why you only talk about ZARA?????

kkdvaca
Oct 7 2010 20:32

Nuestros Clientes
The Gap Inc.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Dillards Inc.
Gear For Sport
Urban Outfitters
Champion
Broder Bros Co. DBA Alpha Shit Co.
Lucky Brand
Dicks Sporting Goods
Isaac Morris LTD
Inditex S.A
Pull and Bear España S.A
Zara
Wear me Apparel Corp.
Jones Apparel Group. USA Inc.
Forus S.A.
Cetco S.A.

kkdvaca
Oct 7 2010 20:32

Nuestros Clientes
The Gap Inc.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Dillards Inc.
Gear For Sport
Urban Outfitters
Champion
Broder Bros Co. DBA Alpha Shit Co.
Lucky Brand
Dicks Sporting Goods
Isaac Morris LTD
Inditex S.A
Pull and Bear España S.A
Zara
Wear me Apparel Corp.
Jones Apparel Group. USA Inc.
Forus S.A.
Cetco S.A.

akai
Oct 7 2010 21:01

I think the reason for this is that Topy Top, from what I understand, delivers to some of these companies only in the N. American market. The original appeal sent by Humanidad was to the CNT in Spain, and thus focused on the company with a big presence there. The appeal was of course spread to other IWA sections, who can choose their targets, but Zara, as one of the main customers of Topy Top will probably be the best target for many of the sections. Here, only the Gap and Zara have any real presence on our market and we have seen products from Peru (most likely from Topy Top) in their shops, whereas we haven't seen these in the Gap.

It is a legitimate question, but on the other hand, focusing on one or two main buyers is a good strategy.

akai
Oct 7 2010 23:18

Sorry, just one more thing: given this article (from a few years ago), I think people writing to Zara or Topy Top should send copies to Inditex.

http://www.just-style.com/news/inditex-could-dump-peruvian-sweatshop-supplier_id97735.aspx

For Spanish speakers there is this from the crap CCOO:

http://www.ccoo.cat/aspnet/noticia.aspx?id=32166

Rob Ray
Oct 8 2010 12:29

Edit: no longer relevant

akai
Oct 8 2010 21:23

One other interesting piece of information I just found out: the president of Inditex (and founder of ZARA) is one of the richest people in the world. In the top 25.

thegonzokid
Oct 25 2010 10:41

Report on Liverpool action here.