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Testimony of Wendy Diaz during Press Conference with Congressman George Miller

May, 26 1996 Share

My name is Wendy Diaz.  I am from Honduras.  I'm 15 years old.  I was born January 24, 1981.  I started working at Global Fashion when I was 13 years old.

Last year, up to December, I worked on Kathie Lee pants.  At Global Fashion there are about 100 minors like me--13, 14, 15 years old--some even 12.  On the Kathie Lee pants we were forced to work, almost every day, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.  On Saturday we worked to 5 p.m.  Sometimes they kept us all night long working, until 6:30 a.m.  This happened a lot with the Kathie Lee pants.  The compañeras of the packing department almost always work these hours.  Working all these hours I made at most 240 lempiras a week, which I am told is about $21.86 U.S.  My base wage is 3.34 lempiras--which is 31 U.S. cents.  No one can survive on these wages.

The treatment at Global Fashion is very bad.  The supervisors insult us and yell at us to work faster.  Sometimes they throw the garment in your face, or grab and shove you.  They make you work very fast, and if you make the production quota one day then they just increase it the next day.

Wendy Diaz testified before a congressional hearing chaired by Congressman George Miller.

 

The plant is hot, like an oven.  They keep the bathroom locked, and you need permission and can only use it twice a day.  We are not allowed to talk at work; if they see us talking, they punish us.

Even the pregnant women they abuse.  They send them to the pressing department where they have to work on their feet 12 or 13 hours a day in tremendous heat ironing.  This is a tactic the company uses to force them to quit, since working like that, their feet swell up and when they can't stand it any more they have to leave.  This way the company doesn't have to pay maternity benefits.

Sometimes the managers touch the girls.  Pretending it's a joke they touch our legs or buttocks.  Many of us would like to go to night school--but we can't, because they always force us to work overtime.

We have no health care, nor does the company pay sick days, or vacation.  North Americans from a U.S. company visited the plant several times, but they never spoke with the workers.

Every one in the plant is very young, the majority are 16-17 years old.  I suppose the Koreans don't want to hire older people because they wouldn't take the abuse.

Most girls in the plant are afraid.  After we met with Charlie and Barbara the company threatened us with firing.  They fired a number and said they would fire all of us if we tried to organize.

The manager called us together, all the workers in the plant, and told us they would not accept a union at Global Fashion.  Anyone involved would be fired immediately.  The company hires spies to report on our meetings.  Since last November, when a group of 40 of us started a meeting, the company threw out all but five of us.

When we leave work at 9 p.m., it is very dangerous.  We leave in groups, almost running to our houses, since there is a lot of crime and it is pitch dark and there is no transportation.

I'm an orphan.  I live in a one room home with 11 people.  I have to work to help three small brothers.

Right now we are making clothing for Eddie Bauer and J. Crew.  There are still a lot of minors working in the factory.

If I could talk with Kathie Lee I would ask her to help us, to end all the maltreatment, so that they would stop yelling at us and hitting us, and so they would let us go to night school and let us organize to protect our rights.  We would like Kathie Lee to return her work to our factory, only under better conditions.  Also we need a just wage.  Please help us.

 

Click here to view the campaign page of Kathy Lee and Walmart in Honduras, El Salvador and China