Tijuana is a major industrial city with almost 900 factories (maquilas) employing around 200,000 workers. Medical equipment. Cell phones. Car parts. Televisions. Toys. Clothing. Aircraft parts. Business machines. Nearly all for export to the US.
Maquila workers earn one-fifth of equivalent US workers. Many live in squalid housing with no running water, electricity or sewerage connection.
Workers in many of the maquila factories face:
- Physical abuse.
- Hazardous conditions with inadequate protection against toxic chemicals and physical danger.
- Short term contracts leading to easy dismissal.
- Sexual harassment and abuse.
- High rates of diabetes, cancers, birth defects and miscarriages, kidney disease.
Let us tell you about Flor. She is one of the 200,000 maquiladoras. Her supervisor was sending her to another site over two hours away. She worked from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am and came home to take the children to school before catching a little sleep. The enforced move meant that she would no longer be able to take her children to school and they would have to drop out completely.
Someone gave Flor an Ollin Calli brochure. She called the number and our counselor met with her. She showed her how to calculate the benefits she would be entitled to if she left her job. This payment will give her enough time to find another maquila that lets her be with her children.
Ollin Calli has been supporting workers like Flor in Tijuana’s maquilas for eight years. Many have harrowing stories of injury, exploitation and abuse.
We are currently the only independent organization in Tijuana available for information on labor rights.
We also give legal support on specific cases both in the work places and with the social security health system.
Our Ollin Calli services are free but come with an expectation that the worker will go on to help other victims of abuse and dangerous workplace conditions. Our individual counseling and group workshops focus on empowerment.
Ollin Calli also organizes tours and presentations for groups from north of the border. They learn about the lives of maquila workers, the injustices of the border wall and immigration laws. Tour members become aware of the struggles for indigenous land rights.
“I never thought about it much before but now I am more aware of the lives of workers who make my cell phone I use every day,” shared one Ollin Calli tour member.
In addition to the ongoing counseling of workers and raising consciousness, Ollin Calli has become a center for activism in Tijuana. Ollin Calli is a crucial and respected presence for student movements, environmental struggles, farmworker strikers, campaigns for indigenous rights and support of survivors of Mexico’s intense human rights war.
We need your generous help so we can continue being a beacon for abused workers in the maquilas of Tijuana.
There is no other source of advice and support for tens, hundreds of thousands struggling in shameful conditions. They produce the TVs and cell phones and medical equipment we all use in the United States.
Your support can be crucial in carrying our vision forward to 2017 and beyond.
Project Cross Border Coordinator
P.S. A donation makes you a partner in our vision to bring respect for labor rights and safe working conditions to thousands of Tijuana maquila workers.