Tegucigalpa, Honduras (AFP)
U.S. unions announced Thursday that authorities denounce before the free trade agreement with Central America (CAFTA) to an American-Korean maquiladora for violating the rights of workers in Honduras. The union delegates gathered in Tegucigalpa Honduran Labor Minister Jorge Bográn as well as local labor leaders and workers who were dismissed by the Electrical Distribution System Kyungshin after tried to form a union.
The company, based in the city of San Pedro Sula, 240 km north of the capital, has 4,900 employees and is dedicated to the manufacture of harnesses and electrical parts of vehicles exported to the United States under CAFTA, which came into force 10 years ago.
The delegation consists of representatives of U.S. unions in various industries, who came to Honduras through the efforts of the General Confederation of Workers (CGT, Christian social), one of the three major labor confederations of Honduras.
“There is nothing else but take the case to international forums, such as CAFTA in the U.S.,” he said in Spanish to AFP Benjamin Davis, director of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Metalworkers of United States.
He added that the goal is to “respect the rights of workers,” so that “we are also in communication with unions of Korea (South) to make arrangements (…) with their government.”
“The company has told us clearly that does not recognize the union and are not willing to enter into any negotiations with them,” Davis said.
He said the foreign maquiladora, which has four factories in San Pedro Sula, committed “a series of violations with working hours, dismissals of trade and health and safety issues.” Some workers reported having to wear diapers because they are only allowed two visits to the bathroom every four hours.
Charles Kernaghan, another member of the U.S. trade union delegation, told AFP that the company also pays very low wages of $ 0.99 an hour.
However, Davis said the U.S. delegation will insist on seeking a dialogue for the company to give in to the integration of the union “because it is the best way” to have a partner.