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Letter from the Fribo workers to Daisy Fuentes

June 16, 2007  |  Share

Letter to Daisy Fuentes
from Workers at Fribo factory in Guatemala

Original handwritten letter

June 16, 2007


Dear Ms. Daisy Fuentes,

They have told us that you are famous person and a good person.  We are writing you to ask you to help us.  We are simple people of Guatemala who sew your Daisy Fuentes blouses at the Fribo S.A. factory located at Kilometer 36.5 InterAmerican Highway, Santa Maria Cauque de Sacatepéquez, Guatemala.  As the men and women workers of this company, the same that you contract to sew your orders of blouses, we are tire of suffering the problems and abuses in the factory—especially the women, they humiliate us, chastise us and scream at us every day.  The supervisors tell us we are, useless, animals and that we have garbage for brains.  What they actually say to us, we don't even want to write.  Often we women are even cry.

The worst is that management makes deducts from our wages to pay Social Security, as required by law, which is supposed to be passed on to Social Security—IGSS—for our health[care] and pensions.  But since 2002, management has robbed us of our money because these deductions are not transferred to where they are supposed to be, that is, to IGSS.  Sometimes the factory only reports 20 workers and that is a lie. This means that we and our children are left without healthcare, despite the fact that we are paying for it, which affects us too when it is time for us to retire.  For us, there have been tragic consequences.  Pregnant women have been denied their paid maternity leave, and both mothers and children have not received adequate healthcare and they have also violated the right to a nursing period.  Workers who are injured on the job or who fall seriously ill are also denied proper medical care.  Since these people cannot work, management says they have quit, but really, they have been fired and left with nothing, since they have not received any of the severance pay legally due them. 

We are also losing out on pension money we will desperately need when we get old and cannot work any more.

The factory is often very hot.  There is not enough clean drinking water, and we are often supposed to consume water from a cistern which is outside and therefore dirty and contaminated, and this causes us to have intestinal infections and other stomach ailments.  They also don't put any toilet paper or soap in the bathroom.

Overtime is mandatory in our factory, as we must remain working until we complete the production goal.  The goals are very high and we work from 7:20 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day (11 hours 40 minutes), and sometimes later.  If we arrive even five minutes late, we can be fined several hours wages as punishment.  We work around 60 hours a week, but we think the factory is not paying us what they should, and they aren't paying us all our overtime hours.

We received just a half hour for lunch, but we don't have any cafeteria or chairs, so we have to eat our lunch either sitting on the factory floor or outside at the side of the highway, with the risk of accidents or of getting sick from contamination because nearby there is a company that produces chickens and eggs.

Ms. Fuentes, we need our work, and we thank you for giving us work, but the law should be respected.  We like making your blouses, which are really pretty.  We need our work and our money, so please do not take your work away, but do demand that they treat us like persons, respecting our human rights.

But we ask you if you would be so kind as to intervene to end the abuses in our factory?  We have no one else to turn to.  Whenever North Americans visit, everything is clean, they put water out and paper in the bathrooms.   They tell all of us how we are supposed to respond if a North American asks us a question.  But the minute they leave, everything goes back to the mess it was before they came.  If someone tells the truth, they will be fired.

Thank you Ms. Fuentes for any help you can give us.  We do not want charity.  All we ask is that they treat us like human beings and that our rights be respected.

With greatest thanks in advance for your help,

The men and women workers of the Fribo S.A., Sacatepéquez, Guatemala

P.S.  We omit our names for fear of reprisals from management.



Daisy Fuentes/Fribo report

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