In 1993, when the company wanted to buy the land on which they plant
their bananas, we workers would not allow it. The government were willing
to sell the land, but we wouldn't let them. We went on strike, didn't
we! As a result of this they sacked 625 workers including trade union
leaders and officials.
they give them their jobs back?
are working in the trade union as the Women's Officer. What problems
do women encounter?
thanks to the new working practices the women are overworked. They have
problems with rheumatism, shoulder pains, their hands swell up. Almost
all of them are ill. They have back problems, their hand and fingers
are constantly swollen and they also have problems with their finger
nails. They have pains in their feet and heels
and countless other
there problems with sexual harassment?
yes, there used to be. Before the law that was implemented in 1995,
harassment was common. Some supervisors, not all, would be disrespectful
and proposition the women, you know? If the woman didn't sleep with
him, then he would threaten to sack her. They always did this secretly,
but one woman worker would tell her companera and then she would tell
another compañera; that's how we realised what was going on.
But since the government modified the Labour Code and passed the Sexual
Harassment Act - known as Law 44 - it doesn't happen. If it happens
to some women then it's because the compañera is unaware of her
rights. If she knows her rights then it doesn't happen. However, in
other jobs, it happens all the time. Most female shop workers, for example,
experience harassment, because the women don't know their rights.
the trade union has an important role in educating women workers?
women banana workers know about this law because of our union, but women
who work in shops, restaurants and places like that don't. Some do know,
but they are afraid of losing their jobs and lay themselves open to
harassment by their bosses.
there many single mothers working on the plantations?
but for some time they've been cutting down the number of women workers.
Now we're only 120 women in the Bocas Fruit Company. There used to be
will be the challenge for your two years as the Women's Officer?