Most work exposing problems with free trade agreements has focused on the negative effects the deals have for American workers. The problems these treaties cause for foreign workers are mentioned, but they are rarely studied in-depth. A new documentary produced by the feminist labor organization STICH seeks to change that.
In late July 2011, STITCH hosted an all women's labor solidarity delegation to Honduras to assess the impact of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) on women in the region. During the ten-day delegation, participants met with women union leaders in various industries, including women in the textile and banana sectors, as well as women leaders from the Honduran National Resistance Front. Drawing links between economic changes and their everyday lives, women workers shared their stories oh how CAFTA has led to an increase in labor flexibilization, unemployment, violations of worker rights, and discrimination against women. In spite of these tremendous challenges that disproportionately affect them, women continue to fight to protect the gains of established unions and to organize new unions in growing industries.
In an attempt to capture the resilience and resistance of working women in Honduras, later this month STITCH will be releasing a documentary with footage and testimonies of the women who participated in our delegation from both the U.S. and Honduras.
More and more women work for independent banana producers who do not allow unions. Attacks on those who support unions are on the rise since a coup d’état overthrew President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. In fact, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reports that Honduran employers, with the regime’s support, are working to weaken the trade union movement by trying everything from using hired killers to measures such as subcontracting. Three trade unionists were murdered in Honduras in 2010.
In spite of these tremendous challenges that disproportionately affect them, women in Honduras continue to fight to protect the gains of established unions and to organize new unions in growing industries.