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Compliance with FLA's six-point action plan (issued in the Interim Summary Report).
This Second Interim Summary Report is an update on FLA's activities since mid-2006 arising out of a Third Party Complaint filed on December 8, 2005 by Christliche Initiative Romero (CRI) regarding Hermosa Manufacturing – a factory in Apopa, El Salvador.
Worker Emergency Fund:
Following a decision of the FLA Board of Directors in December 2006, the FLA created an Emergency Fund for former Hermosa Manufacturing workers who remained unemployed. The purpose of the fund was to provide immediate and direct assistance to these workers; meanwhile, efforts continued to hold the government of El Salvador and the factory owner responsible for complying with their legal obligations to workers.
The fund was administered by the Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD), an NGO based in El Salvador, which identified workers eligible for fund distributions. FESPAD distributed a total of $36,000 in December 2006 and January 2007, contributed by FLA and non-FLA affiliates. FESPAD issued a report to the FLA on the implementation of the fund on February 6, 2007. In December 2006, FESPAD published a notice in two national newspapers, inviting former Hermosa workers to its offices to determine their eligibility to receive a payment. Equal payments were to the 57 workers who had come forward, thereby exhausting the fund's resources.
The FLA requested the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) to conduct an independent review of the emergency fund and the closure of Hermosa Manufacturing. MSN presented its report, “Emergency Assistance, Redress and Prevention in the Hermosa Manufacturing Case,” to the FLA in June 2007 and released it publicly. The FLA Board of Directors issued a public response to the MSN report and recommendations on June 21, 2007.
The FLA’s August 2006 Interim Summary Report on the Third Party Complaint Regarding Hermosa Manufacturing contained a six-point action plan. There has been some progress on the action plan.
However, almost three years after the closure of Hermosa Manufacturing, its former workers are still awaiting their compensation for wages, overtime, and severance payments; they have also been hindered by a lack of medical services, pension, housing benefits, and loss of income. FLA is concerned about the fate of 64 of the 264 former workers who remain unemployed, especially given that they may be victims of discrimination because of their union affiliation.
According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for El Salvador, a Salvadoran court sentenced the former owner of Hermosa Manufacturing in November 2006 to two years in prison for illegally retaining workers’ social security and pension payments and fined him in the amount of $144,724. The fine, if collected, could be used to compensate workers for some of their losses.
The FLA El Salvador Ombudsman has been effective in establishing a dialogue with the various stakeholders involved in the Hermosa Manufacturing case, as well as with garment factories that could employ former Hermosa workers. He has also created a retraining program for former Hermosa workers and organized a job fair.
Communications between FLA-affiliated companies and the Government of El Salvador officials, having broken down in early 2006, were restarted in late 2007 after the Adidas Group’s open letter to the Government. The FLA believes that the dialogue between Adidas Group and El Salvador, attended by the FLA Ombudsman, has the potential to raise the legal and practical issues that had contributed to the debacle at Hermosa Manufacturing.
FLA case story page: http://www.fairlabor.org/report/hermosa-manufacturing-el-salvador