Transcript: Ride in the Van with Young Workers from the Tierra Fria/Legumex Factory

September 24, 2007

Saturday Afternoon, September 24, 2007

NLC:   You all work in Tierra Fría?

Girls: Yes! 

NLC: And North American companies who buy the product from Tierra Fria say it's a good factory.

Girls:  Nooo! But they exploit us a lot.  ....No I don't believe it.

NLC: They pay very good wages.

Girls:  Nooo!  Lies, lies!  They pay only 34.20 ($4.44) a day.

NLC: Do they pay the overtime correctly?

Girls: Nooo!

NLC: Overtime is voluntary?

Girl:  They work us from 7:00 in the morning until—if it's very early, until 5:30 or 6:00, or if not, than we leave very late.

NLC: They work until seven?

Girls: Yes.  Yes.  The ones from San Jancinto work until 9 but they get paid only 6 quetzals for the four overtime hours.

NLC: And this is for preparation?  They work until 9 o'clock?

Translator:  The ones from the village of San Jacinto.

NLC:  They work in preparation? From seven to nine?  From seven in the morning to nine at night?

Girls: Yes.  Uh huh.

NLC: Is anyone here from that village that works"

Girls: No.  ....There are times when they go in at 6:00 in the morning.

NLC:  Anybody from here?

Girls:  Nobody.

NLC: And what hours do these people here work?

Girls:  The ones of us that are in preparation, doing melon.  We are from seven to seven.

NLC: Monday through Friday?  Five days a week?

Girls:  No.  From Monday to Saturday.  [In chorus:] ...And sometimes to Sundays!

NLC: When was the last time they worked on Sunday?

Girls:  Eight days ago.  [One week ago]

NLC:  So they worked seven days last week?

Girls:  Yes!

NLC: And that was on melons?

Girls:  Yes.  And they pay a week late.

NLC:  And, is it comfortable?  They don't rush them at work?

Girls:  No!  ....They demand a lot.  They rush us a lot.

NLC:  What do they do?

Girl (forground):  I worked there as an assistant supervisor.  And the boss there used to chastise me, because I didn't rush the girls.  ...He warned me and he said to me, Look [name], you have to demand it of the girls, and if you don't listen to you, pull their ears.... They only make demands there, but they don't comply with the requisites of minimum wage...

NLC: What is the production goal?  Do they have one?

Girls:  We do 25, 000 pounds a day.  They ask for 25,000 pounds. 

Girls:  Like us, now we have to do 46,000 pounds of broccoli.  ....Before the goal was 16,000 pounds.

NLC: A day?!  How could they do that?

Another Girl:  Well the goal is 46,000, but [by noon]  we only had 16,000. 

NLC: How many workers get that goal of 46 thousand pounds?

Girls:  All 85 doing broccoli. 

NLC:  All 85 had to do 46,000 pounds?

Girls:  Yes.

NLC: Wow!

Girls:  They don't stop.  They don't stop. ...and on melon too.

Girl: This is the entryway to the company.

(Two girls get out)

Girls:  Adios.  Adios!

NLC:  [Resuming conversation]  Do they yell at the workers?

Girls: Yes.

NLC:  What do they say to them?  Please hurry up?

Girls:  [Shouting and pointing] There's the bus to San Jacinto! And it's got people in it!

Translator:  Here comes the bus" they are going to the bank.  Wait.  Go.

Girls:  It's carrying workers.

NLC:  Where are they going?

Girls:  To the bank.  Here.  It is stopping now.

NLC: So they all work at preparation?

Girls: Yes.

NLC: What do they get paid per day? Is it always the same?

Girls: 34.20.  But there's no fixed schedule.

NLC: They don't pay the extra hours for overtime?

Girls: For those of us who are paid by the piece rate, it depends on what we do.

NLC: In other words they can earn more than 34.20?

Girls: Yes.  "but it is more killing.

NLC: So what can you actually earn with the piece rate?

Girls: Well, when we really hurry, on piece rate we can get between 50 and 60 quetzals.

NLC: For the twelve hours they are at work from seven to seven?

Girls: Yes.  Uh-huh. 

[The van continues to follow the bus of workers and there's continued commentary interspersed about the chase]

NLC: The bus is dropping them off.  There are people getting on this bus"

Girls: There they are! There they are! There they are! [Laughing]

[Camera films back of yellow bus.  Tape breaks off.]

Scene with Legumex workers on their way to San Jacinto.  Workers in bus try to convince them to get in.

Break in filming.  Inside the van:

Girl, foreground:  "They fire us.  If they are going to fire them, let them fire them.  But they are firing them for claiming their rights.

Other Girl:  That's what M has always said"so they always do what the boss tells them to do.  The other ones from San Jacinto"

[Conversation about how the workers from San Jacinto are more docile, and made to work longer hours, while those in the van try to claim their rights.]

Girl, back seat left:  They were letting us out at 7:00 at night, but we couldn't get a bus, so we complained and told them to let us out earlier, and they said, "Why are the ones from San Jacinto willing and you are not?"  But we don't let ourselves" They, since they are children, they allow it.  But not me.  

[Two girls have left the van, now stopped off camera and ran ahead to company bus stopped in front of the bank where a group of workers are cashing their paychecks.]

NLC:  Why did they leave the bus?

Girls: Maybe to guide them [the bus ahead].  "Yes, that's it! [Laughter]

Girl in forefront:  No.  It's that they want to talk with them—about this.