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Country index  >  Honduras  > campaigns

Honduras: Union leaders under threat

1,800 workers at the Jerzees de Honduras factory in Honduras are facing the prospect of unemployment after Russel Corporation closed the factory in February 2009. The closure followed a long campaign by the SITRAJERZEESH union, who had finally won the right to represent workers at the factory. Since the closure was announced several union leaders have received credible threats to their safety and their lives.

In 2007, workers at Jerzees de Honduras won a hard-fought struggle for union representation - an unprecedented victory in an industry where workers’ rights are rarely respected. However in October 2008, just days after negotiations came to a standstill, Russell Athletic announced their decision to close the factory.

Since then management has openly blamed union members for the closure of the plant. This has created a perception among workers that they are about to lose their livelihoods because of the actions of union activists. Over the last few months union leaders have received numerous threats against their lives. The threat of violence in Honduras is real: last year the leader of the country’s largest union federation was assassinated after a meeting regarding the closure of a different maquila factory.

Russell continues to maintain that the economic reasons were central to its decision, however it would seem its customers are not convinced. Following a campaign by the Workers Right Consortium and United Students Against Sweatshops over a dozen US universities have cancelled their contracts with Russell Corporation as result of code of conduct breaches at Jerzees de Honduras.

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