A Win for Labour Rights in Honduras
Liliam Castillo is 36 years old. She was born in La Paz and at the age of 15 moved to San Pedro Sula, in northern Honduras, in search of employment. She is a single mother of two, a fifteen-year-old daughter and an eighteen-year-old son. Liliam has been working for Gildan Activewear, a Canadian multinational in Honduras, for 10 years.
In 2010, Liliam began experiencing pain in her left arm, spine, neck, and shoulders. A doctor at the Honduran Institute of Social Security diagnosed her with tendinitis, caused by repetitive movements. In 2012, a co-worker invited Liliam to join the Honduran Women’s Collective (CODEMUH), where she joined the training program and the theater group, “The Rebel Transgressors.” In February of 2013, Liliam was dismissed from Gildan and so she began the process of demanding for reinstatement. During this three-year process, Liliam did what she could to make ends meet, including selling goods and cleaning houses.
The lawsuit went through the entire judicial process, from the First Instance Court, the Court of Appeals, to the Supreme Court. After three years, the Court ruled that Gildan immediately reintegrate Liliam in equal or better conditions than she had been previously working in and also to pay lost wages. Gildan refused to adhere to the Supreme Court’s ruling and CODEMUH developed an approach to pressure the multinational corporation and implemented various strategies to demand Liliam’s reinstatement, including sit-ins in front of the company, the use of social media, local, national and international media, and the international solidarity of individuals and allied organizations.
As a result of these actions, Liliam was reinstated in May 2016. She was relocated to “Hygiene and Safety” where she assists the engineer, delivers safety equipment such as masks, ear plugs, and goggles, and ensures that workers are using them. Liliam kept her salary of 1,900.00 lempiras (approximately $100 Canadian dollars) a week, the same amount she earned when she met the production goal at the time she was fired.
Liliam says: “I am greatly grateful to CODEMUH for everything they have done for me. I have been trained, I have learned about my rights, I am a duly informed woman. Thanks to CODEMUH, I have a job, my self-esteem has improved, and I am proud to be part of the Rebel Transgressors group.”