31 August 2007
For the first time ever, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has agreed to hear complaints of human and labour rights abuses from garment workers in Honduras.
Codemuh (the Collective of Honduran Women), War on Want's partner in Honduras, will represent Honduran workers at the hearing. IACHR is an independent body of the Organisation for American States (OAS), headquartered in Washington DC.
There are over 130,000 sweatshop workers in Honduras, and the government has ignored their situation for many years. Workers face forced overtime, a lack of basic health and safety conditions, physical violence, denial of social security and access to healthcare and sexual and psychological harassment.
The IACHR hearing is a major advance, and one Codemuh and other organisations have been waiting two years for. They are hoping to expose an ineffective system of labour laws that leave garment workers most exposed in regions with the greatest density of factories. Their aim is to shake the Honduran government out of its inaction and into enacting laws better able to protect worker rights. Codemuh's testimony will highlight the instability of the garment sector, and the havoc it plays in workers? lives. Over the past decade, 74,300 workers - primarily women - have been made redundant and did not receive proper payment or unemployment benefits. Other issues include the unfair minimum wage, prohibition on forming unions and the black listing of employees.
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