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Harvest of Shame Update!

February, 28 2008 Share

Major Improvements at Legumex in Guatemala

Following intervention by the NLC and CEADEL in March 2007;
--Child workers offered scholarships to return to school;
--Minimum and overtime wages paid correctly; all overtime voluntary;
--Major health & safety improvements; clinic & doctor at the plant;
--Majority—soon to be all—workers inscribed in national Social Security health care.

The improvements at the Legumex fruit and vegetable processing plant following March 18, 2007 signing of the agreement between company management, the U.S. buyer, the Center for Education and Support for Local Development (CEADEL) and the National Labor Committee have held strong. The most significant of these have been:

  • All the workers are earning the minimum wage plus overtime or for production, depending on the case.
  • The large majority of workers are now inscribed in the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS), which is responsible for health and hospital services and worker pensions. (CEADEL and Legumex management are working together to get 100% of the workers inscribed as per Guatemalan law.)
  • The workers are now receiving their Christmas and 14th month bonuses (one month's wages each, paid in December and July respectively).
  • All the workers in the cutting and packing areas now have protective equipment: boots, hair nets, coats, gloves.
  • Overtime hours have been reduced and are now paid properly. During the high season, overtime is worked until 8:00 at night at the latest.
  • There is no more child labor at Legumex. The company now does not hire anyone under 16 years old. Those under 16 who were working at the plant when the agreement was signed were given proper severance pay and some accepted scholarships to continue their studies in courses run by CEADEL, whose program is certified by the Ministry of Education.
    The workers now enjoy their right to paid weekend rest days. The weekly shift runs to Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Occasionally over the last year, there has been work on Sundays, but CEADEL is monitoring to assure that the weekly day of rest is respected and that no worker is forced to work on Sunday.
  • Health and safety conditions is one of the areas where there has been greatest progress. The bathrooms have been remodeled and are now clean and well supplied. New bathrooms have been built so there would be a sufficient number for all the workers. A worker cafeteria equipped with tables and chairs has been set up for the workers. Emergency exits are now properly marked. There is now a medical clinic and a doctor comes in once a week to attend the workers. The workers also report that the clinic is well supplied with medicines.

In the last year, there have been advances that well deserve to be recognized, but there continue to be some challenges and problems. One of the most serious problems for the workers are the suspensions they face during the off season. According to the workers themselves, they are suspended for one or two months and have to wait for the company to call them back. Some have complained that the company does not call them back, nor gives any explanation. There is also the need to complete the inscription of 100% of the workers in Social Security. Overall, however, conditions at Legumex are vastly impoved and the Legumex is well on the way to becoming a model workplace.

Original Report: "Harvest of Shame" March 2007

March 18, 2007 Agreement: English and Spanish