The following findings are organized under the headings from LCI's Standards of Engagement. (See Appendix 1). They arise from COVERCO's monitoring and verification program and cover the period from November 2, 1998 to July 31, 1999.
A.1 COVERCO has found no evidence of any use of forced labor, be it prison labor, indentured, bonded or otherwise.
B. CHILD LABOR
B.1 There have been no reported cases of workers younger than 15 years of age.
B.2 Guatemalan labor laws state that minors under 18 years of age cannot work overtime. However, COVERCO has discovered violations where minors under 18 years of age feel strongly pressured to work overtime. Following our reporting on this situation, the factory has agreed to consider setting up a two-shift system to accommodate current workers who are under 18 years of age. The factory is also considering hiring only workers 18 years or older in the future. At present there continues to be pressure on young workers to work overtime.
COVERCO received 54 complaints from young workers who claimed they were pressured into working overtime.
B.3 Current shift arrangements prevent young workers from pursuing education during weekday evenings or on weekends. In response to our reports the factory has agreed to consider changing the hours of work to allow these workers adequate time to pursue studies. One option under discussion is the possibility of the factory developing a separate production line if there are sufficient numbers of workers who wish to study and cannot work overtime.
COVERCO received 42 complaints from young workers who claimed they wish to study and cannot work overtime.
HARRASMENT OR ABUSE
C.1 One morning, Mrs. “X”, a worker at the factory who was pregnant, was found to be in serious condition. She advised her line supervisor she was in pain. The line supervisor advised her to sit at her work station and rest. Mrs. "X"'s pain got progressively worse. When she and her line supervisor requested permission to leave, management did not allow it immediately. From the time Mrs. "X" first complained to her line supervisor to the time she left the factory to receive medical attention, almost five hours passed. Shortly after noon on the day of the incident, Mrs. "X"'s husband took her to the Social Security hospital in Guatemala City . The child she was carrying was stillborn early the next morning.
About ten days before this incident, Mrs. "X" had visited the local Social Security clinic where the medical personnel refused to recommend that she be given leave for a high risk pregnancy. Dissatisfied with this result, the next day Mrs. "X" visited a private clinic. There the physician provided her with a written diagnosis describing the high risk nature of her pregnancy. Mrs. "X" promptly gave this document to management who introduced it into her file.
In COVERCO´s discussions with factory management following this incident they agreed that their lines of command and grievance procedures would be clarified. This has been completed.
Factory management also agreed to send a letter to all workers referring indirectly to the incident and setting out new emergency and grievance procedures. This did not happen. However, information about procedures in case of medical emergencies has been posted in visible places in the factory.
The factory also offered to install an infirmary and a medically trained nurse. A rudimentary infirmary has been set up staffed by a full-time nurse's aide.
The manager who refused permission to Mrs. "X" to seek immediate medical attention resigned from the factory. Senior management did not take any disciplinary action against the Personnel Manager.
The worker in question is currently on medical leave and is scheduled to return to work in mid-August. In a future report, COVERCO will document her reinsertion into the workforce.
C.2 On 25 January, 15 workers left the production line complaining of an ongoing problem of forced overtime. (See Finding H.1). On 26 January five of these workers claimed they signed resignation letters under duress. One of the workers claimed that the Personnel Manager forced her to sign by intimidating her verbally and grabbing her arm. The factory claims that the workers resigned voluntarily and paid them the full severance package. The factory also claims that the Personnel Manager grabbed the worker's arm to secure her thumbprint on a receipt for her severance pay. LCI encouraged the factory to reinstate the workers. To our knowledge the factory management has not responded to LCI's suggestion. Subsequently the five workers have indicated to COVERCO that they do not wish to return to the factory.
D.1 Mayan workers who wear traditional clothing reported a lack of advancement opportunities. They also complained of racial slurs. The factory has denied this. On our monitoring visits we have noted that there appear to be no line supervisors or assistant line supervisors who wear traditional Mayan dress.
COVERCO received 8 complaints from Mayan workers who claimed they had been the object of discrimination.
E.1 See the case of Mrs. “X” mentioned above.
E.2 The two factory units have two types of emergency exits: some are rolling steel curtains, others are regular doors. In repeated monitoring visits we found both types were locked. When our monitor pointed out this violation to factory management, they responded that they kept the doors closed due to fear of theft or inclement weather. Nevertheless, factory management agreed to keep the rolling steel curtains slightly open and the other doors unlocked. After receiving these assurances, our monitor still found the steel curtains completely closed during an unannounced visit.
LCI intervened on several occasions to correct this problem, including raising the issue with the President of the factory. Since our joint meeting with the President of the factory in June, this problem has been resolved: now the normal doors are kept unlocked and the steel curtains are kept partially open.
E.3 While a diagram that signals fire exits is posted in the factory, few procedures appear to exist to deal with emergencies such as fire or earthquake. The factory has promised to provide training to all workers on emergency procedures and to carry out simulations. The factory has not done this to date.
E.4 Supervisory personnel do not have basic first aid training. The nurse's aide and clinic were recently installed to respond to this need.
E.5 Our initial inspections indicate that there are an inadequate number of functioning toilets in relation to the number of workers in the factory. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that many toilets are out of service through disrepair. Guatemalan law stipulates the following regarding washroom facilities in the workplace:
one urinal is required for every 20 men;
one toilet for every 25 men for the first 100 workers;
one toilet for every 15 women for the first 100 workers;
after the first 100 workers, one toilet is required for every 30 of either sex;
one washbasin is required for every 26 workers.
The older factory unit serves about 550 workers, of whom about 80% are female. The newer unit serves about 350 workers, with the same gender proportion.
Our initial inspection found the following facilities: