Mari has worked as a cleaning woman her whole life, jumping from contract to contract, and feels that every time she changes companies, her conditions get worse. After six months in this new job, the lateness of the paycheck worries her. But she doesn’t even think of looking for other work. “At my age, no one wants to give me work,” she says, looking down at her hands.
Every afternoon at 5pm, Suyapa puts on the same threadbare uniform that she bought two and a half years ago (she can’t afford the $20 they would charge her to replace it). She puts on the shoes that are cracked and ruined. She readies her things and steps onto the bus, hoping that today will be the day that she’s paid what she’s owed, but read to come home again with empty hands.
Érika works 71 hours per week. Last month she took home $208. “It’s hard sometimes,” she says, “but there really isn’t any other choice.”
Cleaning and security companies in Honduras are notorious for not respecting the rights of their workers. Despite contracts with major state institutions, most get away with paying their workers less than the legal minimum wage, and working them as many as 96 hours per week without any extra pay or overtime. AJS has put together a study of the current state of security guards and cleaning women in state institutions in Honduras, pressuring the government to guarantee the labor rights of these workers.
A study carried out by the AJS shows that in addition to Whoppers and Frosties, fast-food chains in Honduras offer up a menu of serious labor law violations.
As a cleaning worker for a large janitorial services company, Martha was mistreated and denigrated. But AJS Labor Rights project staff empowered her to stand up to the employers who had violated her labor rights—and to teach other women like her to do the same.