Update on Ocean Sky in El Salvador

February, 26 2011 Share

On February 17, 600 flyers were distributed to Ocean Sky workers as they left the Free Trade Zone.  The flyers explained the legal rights of the workers and gave "Hotline" phone numbers for the workers to call to report violations.  Up to this point, workers-not only from Ocean Sky, but from all the factories of the Free Zone-have been too terrified of retaliation to even take a leaflet for fear of being fired.  So it was a breakthrough that 600 anxiously took the flyers.

In calls to the Hotline, workers confirmed that all the violations, harsh treatment and daily humiliations the women workers have faced.


Excerpts from some of the messages:

* Call February 17:

It is true everything that it says in the paper that they gave us [MT/Institute leaflet summarizing violations],  that the water is contaminated, that Martita del Chu who is a supervisor for lines 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 pressures them on the production goal,  screams at them and just about hits them; that Fredis Montoya and Estela, who are also supervisors, also mistreat them; that [for] some days in January when they didn't work because there wasn't any work, they are going to obligate them to make up the time on Saturday.

* Message February 17:

Everything that is written is true[.]  I am a [male] employee who lives it daily but we go to human resources who are on their [management's] side.  Even the Salvadorans chop us to bits. [Nos hacen leña.-make kindling of us]

* Message Feb 17

Another thing [is] that they steal our time.  For holidays they make us make up [the time].  Also, the pay at Youngone is 83 dollars every two weeks and they pay us ten dollars less.  Hope to God that this could be changed.

* Message, Feb 17:

Hope to God that other employees are motivated [to do something].  For me, I just want a better work environment because we are people [human beings].

* Call, February 17:

All the information is correct.  I worked four years in Ocean [Sky].  In January they fired me and three others for leaving with out completing the [production] goal.  The overtime hours are obligatory.  I entered at 6:45 a.m. and would leave at 1:00 a.m.  The water is contaminated, because was constantly getting sick with stomach ailments.  For fear, the people don't say anything.

* Message, February 17:

We are Ocean Sky workers.  There is something that happens, they constantly obligate us to work overtime until 10 at night.  We go hungry until we leave.

* Call, February 18:

[Paraphrase in 3rd person]  They interviewed her twice in the factory.  They are making her work overtime this Saturday, February 19.  She has to stay working until they complete the production goal, and by force.  Isabel, who is a supervisor, meddles in personal things and lacks respect.  They [the women] don't say anything for fear.  In addition, they say that the factory has been fined and they [the workers] are going to have to pay the fine.  If they go to Social Security [clinic] they deduct the excused hours.  She doesn't know how the overtime is paid.  The people in Printing drink Agua Cristal [bottled water] and they don't get the same water.  Theirs even has fuzzy green stuff in it and little red worms.  They watch the women.

* Message, February 21:

Lines 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 the leaders take the operators off the machines and tell them they are no good and insult them.  Please don't give my number.


The week of February 14, Women Transforming and the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights Central America office released a Joint Statement (Spanish/English) across Central America in support of El Salvador's progressive Minister of Labor, Dr. Victoria de Aviles and her intention to launch a thorough monitoring investigation of Ocean Sky.

Ocean Sky and all the Labels Respond:  See Release from the Center for Business and Human Rights, posting responses by Ocean Sky, Adidas/Reebok, Columbia Sportswear, NFL, Old Navy/Gap, Penguin/Perry Ellis, Puma and Talbots.


* See excellent article by Tony Magliano in the San Francisco Catholic Paper shaming the NFL for abusing young women workers in El Salvador.

* President Obama is travelling to El Salvador on March 22-23 to discuss-among other issues-CAFTA and the state of worker rights protections in El Salvador