After years of violence and oppression, peace has returned
Decades of violence and repression have made union work in the sugar industry in Guatemala almost impossible. The Palo Gordo sugar factory trade union is the only one left over. CNV Internationaal works together with this union.
"We are stronger now. We were isolated before working together with CNV Internationaal. There was a lot of fear. Now we’re growing more confident; we long to work on improvement."
After many problems, Palo Gordo is peaceful again. The company is now also trying to obtain the, the standard for the sustainability of sugar production. Of the eleven sugar producers in Guatemala, only four have so far been certified by Bonsucro.
Trade union leaders face many retaliations in Guatemala. People who openly belong to the union run the risk of being unfairly dismissed and sometimes even of being evicted from their homes.
Also, watch the short documentary on union work in Guatemala
More and more sugar companies are being subdivided. Workers are no longer permanently employed but work through subcontractors. Our research shows that the working conditions of these outsourced workers are much worse.
To inform workers in the sugar industry about their labour rights and to help them get organised, CNV Internationaal has started training and organising.
Many workers do not know their labor rights. CNV International created a series of simple Spanish-language videos in which "Don Pepe Derecho" ("Don Pepe of Rights") explains.
In the sugar region along the Pacific Ocean on the south coast of Guatemala, CNV is working together with two trade union organisations. The soil is the most fertile in this region; therefore, it’s the most productive region for the important export industry of sugar and palm oil in particular.
The Palo Gordo sugar factory is now also trying to achieve Bonsucro certification
Increasingly well rooted
"We are stronger because, as a union in the Palo Gordo factory, we are now affiliated both to the national union and to the Central American network of sugar unions.
We were isolated before working together with CNV Internationaal. There was a lot of fear. Now we’re growing more confident; we long to work on improvement."
Timeline of change
Publication date 02 08 2022