Join United Students Against Sweatshops and Indonesian Workers in a demonstration against Eddie Bauer
Saturday August 13, 1:30 PM
600 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
-After working a 24 hour shift, the PT Victoria plant in Indonesia, producing Eddie Bauer clothing closed down- leaving workers high and dry. Indonesia courts ruled that workers are owed over $1 million US dollars! Ketut Sariasah, one of the workers from the PT Victoria plant Indonesia will come to Chicago to face Eddie Bauer and tell them that workers deserve their severance and backpay now!
United Students Against Sweatshops
Over a year and a half ago, on Dec 31, 2003, PT Victoria Garments factory in Indonesia shut down. This was right after workers had been forced to work excessive overtime shifts (up to 24 hours) finishing an order for Eddie Bauer, a longtime customer of this factory.
The owners and foreign management fled the country, leaving the workers without jobs, without their overtime pay, without their backwages, and without their entitled severance. The workers' union filed a complaint with the Indonesian court. On May 12, 2004 the Indonesian Labor Court ruled that PT Victoria must pay the workers a sum totaling over 1 million US dollars. Unfortunately, due to the fact that PT Victoria is a multinational corporation, the Indonesian court verdict was very difficult to enforce. The company had shifted all business to its other factories in Cambodia and Myanmar.
The workers therefore sought the aid of Eddie Bauer and the Fair Labor Association(FLA) as international actors. The actions of PT Victoria were not only in egregious violation of the FLA code of conduct, but also with the local labor law, both of which Eddie Bauer and the FLA profess to uphold. The official third party complaint was filed in August of 2004 and to the workers' dismay, there was not a substantive response from the FLA or Eddie Bauer. A few short emails were exchanged between Eddie Bauer and the union after which the workers heard nothing.
Neither party met with any of the workers nor did they talk with them about the case. Eddie Bauer continued doing business with the owner of PT Victoria in Cambodia.
In March of 2005 USAS started a public solidarity campaign. The FLA and Eddie Bauer started to investigate the case, almost a year and a half after the plant closing.
Even after the FLA was made aware of the facts, instead of immediately contacting the workers to support their efforts and hear their stories, the FLA started making excuses to cover up for the inaction of Eddie Bauer and PT Victoria, claiming that the financial situations of both companies made it such that the workers could not be paid. However, PT Victoria never legally filed bankruptcy in Indonesia, nor did they subject themselves to the two year public audit required in such cases, so bankruptcy cannot be used as an excuse. Furthermore, the company is still operating factories in Cambodia and Myanmar. PT Victoria is, quite simply, attempting to steal over a million dollars from its former Indonesian employees and Eddie Bauer is doing nothing to prevent it.
Due to the MFA phase-out, the tsunami and other circumstances, jobs are very hard to come by in Indonesia. Only 30% of the workers have found other jobs in the manufacturing sector.
Many have had to take their children out of school and send them to their home villages to live with relatives. Some have sold most of their possessions and currently live in the abandoned factory, guarding the few remaining assets left there. None of the former employees have health insurance or savings for health care of any kind, as a result if workers are ill they can't afford to seek treatment, resulting in fatigued and depressed immune systems, and in some cases chronic illness. This is why one of the union leaders calls this "not just a violation of labor rights but a humanitarian attrocity."
Workers will come to Chicago to demand that Eddie Bauer take responsibility and pay the workers now!