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Unions In Nicaragua

NPR's Daniel Zwerdling traveled to Nicaragua to report on a new twist in the ever expanding global economy. As international companies travel the world in search of cheap labor, some workers are trying to form unions to demand better wages and better conditions. Zwerdling tells the story of Chentex, a Taiwanese consortium that was attracted to Nicaragua because the nation offered space in an industrial park, no taxes for the first ten years and lots of people willing to work for low wages. But unlike many developing nations where "sweatshops' are set-up, Nicaragua has a history of unions. Under the Sandinistas, peasants and factory workers were encouraged to unionize. When the workers, mostly women, tried to organize at the Chentex factory they were fired and harassed. The way the workers see it, the government made a kind of pact with the devil and they need unions to protect themselves. The way the government sees it, international companies offer employment and a much needed economic boost. The way the companies see it, they are not anti-union, and they are offering work and wages in places where none would exist without them.

Copyright 2000 NPR