UNI launches campaign for reinstatement of 22 sacked Falabella workers in Peru
UNI Global Union is calling for Chilean multinational home retailer Falabella to reinstate 22 Peruvian warehouse workers who were unfairly dismissed after asking for better protections against Covid-19.
After a brief closure, Falabella reopened its Peruvian distribution centre in early May, despite workers and their union SUTRASAF’s concerns about inadequate health and safety protections. For example, the company only gave workers a single mask per week.
These unsafe conditions led 22 Falabella workers in Peru to use their legal right to refrain from work until the company enacted proper measures to ensure workers’ health and safety. In response, the company adopted a more comprehensive approach to the pandemic, and it started providing workers with masks daily among other steps.
However, when the health and safety activists returned to the job, they were immediately suspended, even though their refusal to work was legitimate based on Peruvian law.
“Although these 22 workers were deserving appreciation for their initiative, they were handed out pre-dismissal letters and suspended,” Head of UNI Commerce Mathias Bolton and UNI General Secretary Christy Hoffman wrote the company in May. “There are several alarming cases in different countries showing that the COVID-19 can rapidly spread in distribution centres and intimidating workers who ask for better health and safety can fuel the terrifying risk we all encounter.”
Unfortunately, the company has ignored this letter and other, repeated calls to refrain from disciplining these employees. Falabella fired all 22 workers on June 1—without any compensation, in the middle of a pandemic. UNI believes these firings where done to intimidate other workers from speaking out.
Meanwhile, the situation inside the Peruvian distribution centre has gotten worse. Workers report that are at least 30 cases in the facility, which is currently employing 300 people and expects to bring 300 more back to work soon.
In response, SUTRASAF Union—in collaboration with UNI—is launching an international campaign to get workers’ jobs back.
To show your solidarity, you can print out a banner demanding re-instatement of workers, take a photo with the banner and post your photo on social media with the hashtag #SaludAntesQueGanancias (which means health over profit) and #Falabella.