name is Francisca Criollo, I've been working on the Rio Culebra banana
plantation since 8th August 1988. I work as the auxiliary nurse but,
as you can see, I don't have what I need to do my job properly. I've
spent many years asking them to give the necessary resources for the
medical dispensary, but sadly they've given me nothing. My wage is $20
per week; they don't pay my transport, nor do they give me a uniform;
no breakfast, only lunch (supper we have at home). We have problems
with the company store, because they don't sell us the products at cost
price. It seems like a luxury shop and they charge us double normal
raised the issue of the health problems related to the canteen because
I am a nurse and people's health is my responsibility. The canteens
do not serve adequate food. As you saw that day you went to Rio Culebra,
the pots they cook with, the glasses they use and the buckets that they
use to do the washing up are all really old and dirty and we don't have
any way of helping the women who run the canteens. They charge the same
price for the rice as they would charge outside the plantation - sometimes
live in Naranjal, some 35kms from the plantation. They don't pay transport
and I have to catch the bus to get here and back. From the main road
at the entrance to the track that leads to the plantation there is a
bus that takes us to the plantation and that one is paid for by the
company. If I arrive a little bit late, the bus leaves without me, I
have to hire a pick-up which charges me $10 from the main road to the
plantation; this is half my weekly wage! Sometimes I miss the express
bus and get left behind. If I don't make it to work they sometimes discount
as much as 2 or 3 days' wages, and I end up earning nothing when I go
to pick up my fortnight's wage.
there any medicine on the plantation?
no medicine at all on the plantation. When they do buy us medicine it's
a small amount. We want to make a proper workplace dispensary, so that
the Social Security will bring us the medicine; but nobody has contact
with anyone who can help us. The company gives me $40-50 to buy them,
but what can we buy with that? That amount only lasts for about a month.
are the conditions like where you have to treat the workers?
place is completely inadequate. There's no water or electricity, there
are no clean toilets where a person receiving treatment can go, there's
no private bathroom. There aren't the basic facilities for anyone to
one of the workers is injured, what happens then?
one of the engineers happen to be on the plantation - and they have
a car - then they take the worker and transport them to the medical
it's a question of luck?
don't give us enough money, because they are not signed up to Social
Security. And the Social Security asks us for up-to-date pay-slips for
the person who is ill or injured. If they are not up-to-date then they
don't get treatment. We don't have that facility. I know this from personal
experience. I had an accident. I fractured my leg, and I have all the
prescriptions from a private doctor. I went to Social Security, and
they told me that that plantation (Rio Culebra) had not paid into the
system so they couldn't treat me. They sent me to Guayaquil, But I didn't
go, because I knew they we going to ask me for papers and that my journey
would be wasted. So that's why I went to a private doctor because I
couldn't walk. The accident occurred on the plantation. I get about
by bicycle, and don't have adequate transport there. So I had an accident
and I broke my ankle. I was off work for 7 months. They did pay me,
but it was the absolute basic. They sent me some money every month to
pay for medicines but it wasn't enough to cover them. I've been unable
to work for seven months.
from accidents, what other illnesses are common?
typhoid, dengue fever... Another problem is that we have snakes here.
There is no anti-venom. We don't have a fridge, we don't even have electricity,
and the anti-venoms have to be kept refrigerated.
The people who sleep on the plantation sleep on cardboard from the banana
boxes. As you've seen there aren't adequate facilities. I hope that
these compañeros who've come are going to inspect how our
live. People work really hard for between 8 and 12 hours, and it's just
not right. In1988, when that man from Denmark started working here,
he hasn't sorted out anything or improved the working conditions. Right
know we want to see what can be done with these Danes, because we don't
have adequate medical attention.