Major Worker Rights Victory in Guatemala

October 13, 2009

CEADEL, Nicotex Sign Breakthrough Agreement in Guatemala

October 13, 2009


A joint campaign by the National Labor Committee (NLC and the Guatemalan Center for Studies and Support for Local Development (CEADEL) has resulted in major improvements in respect for women's rights, labor rights and health and safety conditions at the Nicotex garment factory.

As you can see from the agreement (below) between CEADEL, factory management and representatives of the workers, the workers have won the right to healthcare.  Significant health and safety improvements have been implemented.  All overtime will be voluntary.  Vacation time and pay will be honored.  And workers are guaranteed their right to defend their legal, women's and labor rights—including the right to organize an independent union.  CEADEL will help train factory supervisors on respect for human, women's and worker rights.   CEADEL will also verify factory conditions to guarantee that the agreement is fully implemented.

This campaign proves that international solidarity combined with the effective and dedicated work of local nongovernmental organizations such as CEADEL can result in major victories for workers across the developing world.

This is only the latest of several successful joint campaigns of the NLC and CEADEL.  You can access report on major improvements at the agro-industrial export factory Legumex here.








In the context of its work to promote, defend and achieve Labor Rights, CEADEL undertakes monitoring activities, labor training, legal assistance and coordination between national and international institutions to allow for harmony between the workers and the management. Those actions are based on the full observance and effectiveness of national and international laws, conventions and treaties relating to current labor and trade laws.
In this context CEADEL expresses that the NICOTEX S.A. company has made the following changes to  allow for more harmonious labor relations., and the Nicotex Company commits to maintain these changes for the benefit of all parties,

a.) There has been an improvement in the administration's and the majority of supervisors' relations with workers.

b.) The workers have been affiliated to the Guatemalan Institute of Social Security and the certifications are being given when the workers need them. 

c.) A process of giving overdue vacations to the workers has been initiated.

d.) The pressure to work forced overtime has somewhat diminished.

e.) The provision of drinking water has been improved and guaranteed, as has access to the bathrooms.

f.) CEADEL will advise, inform and train the women and men workers on their labor  rights and obligations as  established in the Guatemalan laws.

Therefore on August 31, 2009, CEADEL and NICOTEX S.A., with full decision-making authority, agree to the following terms to allow for full implementation of labor rights as well as for the growth and development of the company.

a.) CEADEL commits to releasing information regarding this agreement and the improvements that have been made nationally and internationally,  to human and labor rights organizations, to the media, to the companies, and to the American Embassy.

b.) CEADEL will cooperate in the training of NICOTEX S.A. supervisors on the issues of labor rights and human relations at the work place.

c.) CEADEL will have an open communication with the NICOTEX S.A. Company in case of reports or findings of violations in the area of labor rights.

d.) The Briggs New York label will be urged to immediately return their production to the NICOTEX S.A. company because our objective is improve the labor conditions, and not to affect [harm] the maquila workers.  Also the labels must be socially responsible., especially in the case of NICOTEX S.A. which is making efforts to improve the labor conditions.

Meanwhile, NICOTEX SA commits to:

a.) Writing up a schedule for the overdue vacations for all workers.

b.) Guaranteeing labor stability for all workers.

c.) Not hiring minors for any process of the factory.

d.) Guaranteeing no reprisals against workers who had demanded their labor and human rights.

e.) Giving instruction and monitoring that all supervisors give a good treatment to all workers [including] not pressuring them to resign or blackmailing them with [threat of] dismissal.

f.) Giving instruction and assuring that Mr. Eliseo López, assistant plant manager, improves his relations with workers, or, if this does not occur, dismissing him.

g.) Guaranteeing that overtime hours are voluntary and planned.

h.) Supplying the bathrooms with the necessary items and maintaining this policy.

i.) Providing seats with backs to the workers  to avoid injury, particularly to the back.

j.) Installing needle guards on all workers' machines.

k.) Installing a first aid cabinet.

l.) Renovating the medical clinic in the factory to permit attention in cases of emergency.

m.) Responsibly informing the workers of any economic difficulties impacting the company.

n.) Guaranteeing the workers' full right to expression and organization in accordance to national and international law.

o.) Informing all the workers that the company has assumed the labor obligations of their working relationship with the past company ETERNAL S.A.

p.) Providing benefits/severance without obstacles and according to the law when a worker is fired.

q.) CEADEL and its representatives may enter company premises when they desire, leaving a written report of the findings, and releasing it publicly if that is necessary.

r.) Guaranteeing that pregnant women enjoy all their rights established by law, including their right to the period of breastfeeding.

Both parties agree to have periodic meetings to assess the advances in the fulfillment of this agreement.

Gabriel Zelada Ortiz

Soho Kim
General Manager

Emigdio Yanez
Ad-hoc Workers' Comittee

Original Nicotex factory report