Rising Sun Workers Support Hunger Striking Purdue Students

Purdue Students are now entering day 20 of their hunger strike demanding that Purdue adopt the Designated Suppliers Program to ensure that all workers producing university-logo apparel have the right to a living wage and freedom of association. (Check out their website here.)

A group of Rising Sun workers spoke with the hunger striking students yesterday via a conference call. Afterwards, they wrote this letter of support:

President Jischke

Purdue University

We are the workers of the Athi River Export Processing Zone in Kenya. We are writing this letter trying to explain to you the situation that is in our zones. We are garment workers and some of us are producing for the university-logo apparel market. We are asking you to accept the demands of the hunger striking students because the cause they are striking for is genuine and here are some of the problems that we incur.

  1. We don’t have medical cover.
  2. The salary is below living standards. We are earning about 2-3 US dollars per day.
  3. The salaries are delayed, hence we get a lot of embarrasment from the landlords and even get locked out of our houses.
  4. We even work forced overtime without any pay.
  5. The employers don’t respect the collective bargaining agreement.
  6. Due to the low wages we get, you find expatriate managers harrass girls sexually and workers are forced into commercial sex work.
  7. There is union-busting when we try to organize and workers are beaten by the police for demonstrating.
  8. Even transport is not given when we work until late at night.

We know that students at Purdue have been on hunger strike for weeks and we urge you to accept their demands so that they do not continue suffering. We have suffered enough in the hands of these employers and what we are requesting is for you just to accept the cause of the strike because in doing this you would have saved us and our families. If you want to confirm the kind of problem we go through, in our zones you can just talk to United Students Against Sweatshops or speak with us directly over the phone.

Faithfully yours,

(Signed by 14 Rising Sun workers)

The workers also recorded a video of messages of support - click here to watch!

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