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Alianza Fashion — workers robbed of Social Security health care and pension

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The recent United States Trade Representative’s case made against Guatemala has the potential to completely change the lives of thousands of workers across Central America. Since January 2004, Guatemala has been able to import garments into the United States duty free. Tariff breaks have resulted in drastically increased profits for Guatemalan garment factories such as Alianza Fashion, a factory that manufactures garments for U.S. brands that are sold in several retail stores, including Kohl’s and Sears. Surely with so many cuts on import taxes Guatemalan companies can afford to improve working conditions and employee benefits, but no such efforts have been made. Alianza Fashion has been denying workers their basic rights and firing them for attempting to address their mistreament. Factory employees are forced to work overtime, do not receive the benefits they are entitled to by law, and cannot pay for the necessities of life with the dismally low minimum wage they receive.

For the past six years, Central American companies like Alianza Fashion have been making billions as a result of tariff breaks but the American people and Guatemalan workers have gained nothing. Though companies claim to monitor their factories, they are not held accountable for their actions and continue to abuse workers. The National Labor Committee is collaborating with CEADEL, a non-proft labor rights organization in Guatemala, to improve working conditions and put a stop to the violations of employees’ rights. The only way to ensure workers’ rights is to enact punishments for the violations these companies commit. If companies are forced to comply with established labor laws, workers’ rights will improve throughout Central America. The case the USTR has made against Guatemala may finally be the chance workers need in order to end their exploitation.

 

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