Another one from the Red Maquiladora Network:
It is appalling to learn how much maquiladora managers are willing to sacrifice their workers in order to increase company profits. Alicia Lobato, mother of four children, used to work for the company Corrugados de Baja California, when, as a result of an “accident,” her back was injured. As a result, she is now a paraplegic, condemned to use a wheelchair, perhaps forever. A company manager forced her to operate a defective machine from atop a ladder. When Alicia fell down, the company blamed her for the “accident” and fired her. We ask for your support for Alicia in her fight against the company.
Alicia Lobato Palacios had an on-site work related injury on 03/02/2007 at Corrugados de Baja California- a maquiladora that manufactures cardboard boxes, and she continues to fight the employer and the Mexican public health system know as “Seguro Social” (social security) to resolve the matter of her pension.
On 3/02 Alicia was asked by her supervisor to work in the production line. She requested if anyone else could be asked and the supervisor replied with a threat- if she declined she would be sent home for a week with no pay. She was set up on a ladder to climb a platform of about four steps that had no safety measures and asked to fold cardboard boxes which is where Alicia fell. Alicia remembers waking up in the company’s infirmary and recalls intense hip pain without being able to stand up on her feet.
The human resources executive at Corrugados de Baja California while pretending to stroke her head for comfort whispered in Alicia’s ear that when the Red Cross came to pick her up she would need to claim the accident had taken place during her lunch hour. Alicia responded that she agreed, but when the Red Cross arrived to pick her up she instead told the truth. If Alicia had said what the human resources executive wanted, she would have almost lost the right to sue the company and obtain disability compensation.
The Mexican Constitution stipulates that the Mexican government must provide workers medical service. The Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) is a government institution that provides that service. It is funded by dues paid by both employees and employers. IMSS also pays disability compensation to workers affected by labor-related accidents or diseases. Each time an accident or disease is reported to IMSS, the company where the accident happened ,or where the disease was acquired, has its dues increased. That is why maquiladoras try to hide any labor health and safety problems in the factories. That is why Corrugados wanted Alicia to say her accident was personal, not job related.
Each year, the Mexican Department of Labor certifies Corrugados de Baja California, the company where Alicia used to work, as a “safe company,” meaning that labor health and safety standards are respected. However, insufficient fire prevention equipment in a factory where paper and cardboard are some of the main materials used has produced two fires in 2004 and 2005.
The brutal human management in the company combines with cruel treatment in the IMSS. Alicia needed surgery 24 hours after the accident. The surgery was performed after a month. The operation had negative results and she is now a paraplegic. Alicia was discharged to go home on 3/30 in a wheelchair and was warned about the need to return to work as soon as possible. Alicia presented herself to Corrugados de Baja California in a wheelchair to start her daily routine. She and her husband made an estimated amount of 26 dollars per day and 13 dollars of that amount went to transporting Alicia to work and back. The building along with the city of Tijuana is not structured to accommodate the disabled population. The maquiladora where Alicia and her husband worked had no ramp for her to enter the building and the bathroom access also has no accommodations. Alicia has no bowel control, so when the need came for her to go to the restroom she would have her husband leave his work site to assist her. Alicia attempted to work but she claimed the pain was intolerable. She first worked a few hours, then a few days but never a full week She has since not returned to work and her disability checks stopped coming since December, 2007. The Social Security agency provides physical therapy but it does not amount to the necessary time that Alicia would have any real benefits.
You can support Alicia’s struggle against the company with food, adult diapers or cash. To support Alicia, please contact us:
Tijuana: Margarita Avalos and Jaime Cota (Cittac, Information Center for Working Women and Men)
Phone: (664) 622-4269
San Diego: Claudia Elias and Enrique Dávalos (San Diego Maquiladora Workers’ Solidarity Network)
Phone: (619) 245-9227, (619) 388-3634
You may also send a check. Please make it out to “Cittac,” write “Alicia Lobato” in the memo line of the check and send it to the following address:
601 E. San Isidro Blvd. Suite 180
San Ysidro, CA 92173
If you want your donation to be tax deducible, please make your check out to “SDMWSN” (San Diego Maquiladora Worker Solidarity Network) and write in the memo line “Alicia Lobato.” Your can also donate by using the SDMWSN website: sdmaquila.org.
100% of donations sent to Cittac and SDMWSN will be given to Alicia and her family.
This campaign is sponsored by Cittac (Centro de Información para Trabajadoras y Trabajadores – Information Center for Working Women and Men), Binational Feminist Collective and SDMWSN (San Diego Maquiladora Worker Solidarity Network).