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Women Sweatshop Workers Defy Labor Law and Win

April 2002

The workers at the Lipchanka sweatshop garment factory in Lipetsk, 300 km south-east of Moscow, have won a victory after they defied the new
Labor Code brought in by Putin last winter, and went on strike. The action is sure to inspire other Russian workers to refuse to accept this legislation
which condemns them to starve.
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RUSSIA INFO-LIST
from International Solidarity with Workers in Russia -  ISWoR@aol.com
ISWoR web-site -  http://members.aol.com/ISWoR/english/index.html
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Women Sweatshop Workers Defy Labor Law and Win

April 2002

The workers at the Lipchanka sweatshop garment factory in Lipetsk, 300 km south-east of Moscow, have won a victory after they defied the new
Labor Code brought in by Putin last winter, and went on strike. The action is sure to inspire other Russian workers to refuse to accept this legislation
which condemns them to starve.

The boss at Lipchanka had delayed payment of several months wages, intimidated the union activists, coerced workers into signing statements that
they were taking "voluntary" unpaid leave, and finally forced the remaining staff to take on their workload at no extra pay. It was the last straw.
The workers, mostly women and many of them single mothers, went on strike. Within 24 hours of the strike, the boss surrendered, paid all debts and
agreed to return previous working norms.

Under the draconian new Labor Code brought in last December, only those actions supported by over 50% of the entire workforce in any enterprise
are now legal. As most strikes in Russia do not fulfil his requirement, it puts the overwhelming majority of actions outside the law. Yet the women
showed great courage in defying this unjust Code, refusing to accept their situation.

Since the restoration of the market system, non-payment of wages has become extremely common in Russia. Sometimes workers wait a year for
money owed. Payment in kind, such as coffins or condoms, already very widespread, has now officially become legal under the new Code.

The majority of Lipchanka workers live in grinding poverty. Wage delays meant that many were paid less than $10 for the entire month of February.
Meanwhile their boss lives in a luxurious villa, and the western firms who outsource their clothing here, including well-known brand names from the
USA and Germany, make huge profits.

Sergei Chekrygin, an independent labor journalist collaborating with ISWoR, recently visited Lipchanka. He describes the conditions at the factory.

Chekrygin reports: "In the summer, the temperature on the shop floor reaches 37 deg. C. The women pour water on themselves as they work, in
order not to lose consciousness."

With conditions like these, the miserable wage levels and a 60-hour working week in the summer, the women of Lipchanka have every reason to
continue their fight. If so, they will need not only the support and solidarity of other workers in Russia, but of the international labor community.
Watch this space.

For more information on the Lipchanka struggle, please visit our website at:

 http://members.aol.com/ISWoR/english/news/lipchanka.html

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The RUSSIA INFO-LIST
puts out information and analysis from a wide range of sources.
If you have something you would like to distribute on Russia Info-List, or
want to help in our practical solidarity work, contact: > ISWoR@aol.com<
Box R, 46 Denmark Hill, London, SE5 8RZ, England
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homepage: homepage: http://members.aol.com/ISWoR/english/index.html