My name is Consuelo Hernández. I’m 39 years old, and I am from Piedras Negras, Mexico.
I had to start working when I was 16, right after finishing high school, to help my parents take care of my brothers and sisters. I started at Lancermex, a maquiladora where soft drink machines were made. Then I went to Littelfuse, where we made fuses for cars and refrigerators. There were around 1000 people working there, most of us women.
The workdays were long. Sometimes 12 hours long. I spent more time at the factory than at home. When I did finally have my own family, I didn’t have time to be with them. And I was subject to harassment. So I came home late, after being yelled at on the job, and I was irritated and tired. And on top of everything else, I had to do all the housework.
Life is hard at the maquila. If one of my kids was sick, for example, I would have fight hard for permission to leave work. I’d have to tell my coordinator, then the coordinator tells the supervisor, and then the supervisor tells HR. I needed permission from three people and, if they gave it to me, they’d deduct the hours, even if was a family emergency. What counts there is that you work and produce; they don’t care if you have family problems.
I decided to try my luck in the United States and I took my oldest son with me. But after nearly 12 years working there, cleaning houses, I returned to Piedras Negras. It’s hard to find a job that lets you look after your children.
When I heard Julia Quiñonez, from the Comité Fronterizo de Obreras (“Border Committee of Workers”) speak about the “Dignidad y Justicia” (“Dignity and Justice”) project, I decided to go and work there. It is a textile workshop created by former maquila workers that offers flexibility.
Each morning, I spend three hours at “Dignidad y Justicia”, then I go home, make lunch, eat with my children and help them with their homework. Then I return to the workshop in the afternoon.
Here at “Dignidad y Justicia”, if I need to leave, I just need to make arrangements with one person, a person who helps me and understands me. And if any special situation were to arise, I can even bring my baby, take care of him and work easily at the same time with no worries about him being left alone.
All mothers would like to have the opportunity to work like this. Because we need to work and take care of our kids When you’re at other maquiladoras, you don’t often have time to help your kids do their homework or anything, because the shifts are so long.
I feel very good about being here. I have more time for my home and my family. I don’t work weekends I feel much more relaxed here, much more at peace.
Thanks to this new project at the “Dignidad y Justicia” maquiladora, where the name says it all.
“Dignidad y Justicia” was founded by former workers from the textile industry in Coahuila, sponsored by the Border Committee of Workers. It is located in in Piedras Negras and produces cotton articles, under conditions free of exploitation, with fair trade criteria and with a lower environmental impact. This maquiladora seeks to be a model for other companies in the sector"
The Border Committee of Workers is one of seven organizations participating in the project “Improving Working Conditions and the Lives of Workers”, undertaken by Fondo Semillas, Hispanics in Philanthropy and proDESC, with the support of the C&A Foundation.
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