Odilia Caal Có, local leader in a branch of the IUF-affiliated Federación Sindical de Trabajadores de la Alimentación, Agroindustria y Similares (FESTRAS) was brutally beaten earlier this month in an attack which left her with multiple injuries including a broken rib. The attack took place in an export processing zone (maquiladora) on the premises of Winners Textil.
Odilia and other union leaders were present to welcome back a group of workers unfairly dismissed two years ago and reinstated through a court ruling. However, the company had already spread scare stories that the reinstatement and retroactive payment of wages would result in the closure of the plant. Some employees, including the director of human resources, took Odilia by force to an administrative office and brutally beat her until she signed a statement withdrawing from the union.
This is the second time Odilia has been attacked. On March 10, 2020, two members of the pro-management union burst into the union office and assaulted her and a five month pregnant unionist. “The company’s management is extremely violent and will do anything to destroy the union,” warned FESTRAS.
According to the ILO, Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries for trade unionists. The IUF, through its regional organisation, Rel UITA, is closely monitoring the situation and calling for prosecution of the perpetrators of the violence.