Guatemala | HR | WOMEN

Terrorism and violence at Winners Textil

We are all Odilia Caal Có

Odilia Caal Có, general secretary of the Winner Workers’ Union (Sitrawinner), was held against her will in the offices of the company, where she was beaten and threatened until she signed a statement withdrawing from the union. The Korean-owned Winners Textil maquiladora company makes clothes for several companies that are very well-known around the globe. In that microcosm, labor persecution is characterized by brutally violent practices and vicious harassment.
Image: Gerardo Iglesias | Rel UITA

The company’s management is extremely violent and will do anything to destroy the union,” according to our affiliate organization, the Trade Union Federation of Food, Agroindustry and Related Industry Workers of Guatemala (Festras).

This is not the first time Odilia has been attacked. Earlier this year, on March 10, she was in the union’s office, which is located inside the plant, when two workers who are members of the pro-management union burst in violently and began assaulting her.

According to the report filed with the Prosecutor’s Office at that time, Odilia was brutally beaten on her face and back, where her attackers left visible marks, and she was also kicked in the legs. While she was being assaulted, her attackers spewed insults and threatened to literally kick her out of the company.

In that same attack, her fellow unionist Yorneli Patzan, who was five months pregnant, was also assaulted in front of several workers.

Violence as a system

History repeated itself on Monday, September 7. That day, union leaders were welcoming back some fellow unionists who had succeeded in being reinstated through an action in court, two years after they were fired without cause.

The company confronted them and manipulated its workers with the argument that reinstating them and paying back wages would lead to the closing of the maquiladora.

When the reinstated workers showed up to reclaim their jobs, a group of workers jumped them and took Odilia by force into the administrative offices, where she was brutally beaten.

One of the Korean owners of the maquiladora left the plant, “clearing the field” for his human resource gangsters to “expedite” the paperwork for her resignation.

Odilia resisted until she could not take it anymore, suffering multiple injuries, including bite marks and a broken rib that affected her lung; her body was covered in bruises. The beating was brutal,” Festras informs.

This maquiladora is located in the municipality of Mixco, some 20 kilometers from the center of Guatemala City, but a huge, vast, and deep gap separates it from all human dignity.

Odilia: you need to know you’re not alone!