Honduras: workers claim mistreatment at US-owned maquilas

The labor and human rights of women workers are being violated at two factories in northern Honduras owned by the US clothing firm Delta Apparel, Inc., according to a July 25 statement by the Honduran Women’s Collective (CODEMUH). Workers at Delta Apparel Honduras and Delta Apparel Cortés, maquiladoras (tax-exempt assembly plants producing for export) in Cortés department, say management uses harassment, reprisals and threats of firing to get employees to meet excessively high production quotas. Some workers reportedly suffer muscle or bone injuries because of long hours in uncomfortable positions; they say that when they are reassigned due to the injuries, they are called “the sick ones” and “the Barbies.”

Delta workers have reported these conditions to various government agencies, including the Regional Labor Inspection Office and the Labor and Social Security Secretariat (STSS), but with no results. Noting that there are similar conditions in other Honduran maquiladoras, including the ones producing for the Canadian firm Gildan Activewear Inc. and the US firm HanesBrands Inc., the CODEMUH statement calls on the authorities to carry out ergonomic studies in the assembly plants to determine proper standards for quotas, work assignments and job schedules. CODEMUH also called on “European and North American buyers of PUMA, Adidas and Nike brands to demand that these internationals fulfill their social responsibilities as businesses [and] stop the violation of labor law in Honduras.” (Adital, Brazil, July 26, July 29) (CODEMUH didn’t indicate whether there was any connection between Delta and these brands.)

On July 28, Delta Apparel Inc. reported sales of about $475 million in the fiscal year ending on July 2, an increase of 12% over the previous fiscal year. Despite problems in the US economy, the company, based in Greenville, South Carolina, expects net sales “in the range of $500 to $520 million” for the next fiscal year, a 5% to 9% increase. Delta’s subsidiaries include M. J. Soffe, LLC; Junkfood Clothing Company; To The Game, LLC; Art Gun, LLC; and TCX, LLC. (Delta press release, July 28, via MarketWatch)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 31.

See our last post on Honduras and Central America.