Rising Sun Workers Speak Out

The following quotes were compiled from interviews with Rising Sun workers conducted by United Students Against Sweatshops:

“The reality that is here is that there is a lot of oppression... Whatever clothes the buyers are wearing, to me I can term them as ‘blood clothes,’ because they are not being got in the just way. People are being oppressed; people are being harassed to produce their garment. It is very wrong if whatever someone is wearing is made by somebody who is not paid… They should be aware of what is happening on the ground.”

“I can talk about the major problem with the working conditions which was discrimination, nothing else. Discrimination is the one which brought all this. Because the CEO, or someone like CEO, is telling people they are like “black monkeys.” …They see the Blacks as if they are prisoners, …as if they are working with somebody who does not have their rights.”

“I had worked in Rising Sun for two and a half years. There was an incident that happened … where one of our managers, by the name Mr. ________, had abused one lady. He found that lady; she was at the table working, but there was no job. So, he threw garments on her face. After that… the lady asked ‘why did you do that?’ [He said], ‘I can fuck you and sack you.’ So, from there it was a case that came up to the Export Processing Zone Authority, where the case was presented…They ruled that the lady should forgive the man. Then the lady was asking, ‘If I was the one who had abused the manager, I would have been summarily dismissed! Why should that rule not be applied?’ Then, he came in the morning, the same same manager. You see after coming [to the authorities], there was no action that was taken so he was very proud and bragging about it. He came and then he said to the factory, “I can fuck you and sack all of you.” Then, from that statement, people were very much annoyed, so they came out demonstrating and policemen were called to throw us out…

“When the police came they abused human rights because there was no talking about anything. Ladies were being beaten. Men were being chased. That was what happened. By the time the police came, people had settled down after demonstrating, but when they evicted everyone from the factory…

“Then we came on Monday… and we found a notice that all of us are being summarily dismissed. So, after a few days… they wrote a circular, a memo, that our dues are being paid at Machakos District labor office and that after you go and take that money we will take you back to job …. When people went there, they found after working for two years, three years, they are only getting 3,000 [shillings] ($41), whereas they expected something like 20,000 ($274) … Some people were cheated to go and take the money, but after taking the money they were not taken back to the job. So, we still refuse to go and take the money, and we reported the issue to the branch secretary [of the union].

"…From there we have been fighting and some people… got jobs, but after getting jobs they are still calling from where they are working. They are saying ‘don’t employ those guys.’ I’m a victim. I was employed and I was sacked just because… there was a statement that was written that this is one of the guys that led the demonstrations. So, I was sacked.”

“They are oppressing us so much because we can’t get jobs anywhere. This one they have to be made to stop with immediate effect because what they are trying to do is they are trying to oppress us. They are trying to make us desperate so that we can agree with anything they come up with. Recently, I was working in [another factory], but I was fired because there was a circular, containing my name and around 30 other people, saying that these people are not supposed to be employed anywhere. They have circulated it in Mombasa, Nairobi, even here. So, we cannot get jobs.”

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