Democratic Workers Union responds to unfounded accusations on working conditions and CKD at Ingenio San Antonio, Chichigalpa

Dear Sirs,

The Democratic Workers Union at Ingenio San Antonio respectfully addresses you to express the following:

With profound astonishment and consternation we have read the document you published in relation to the Nicaraguan Sugar Industry and with special attention to Ingenio San Antonio.

Union representation has existed at Ingenio San Antonio for more than 70 years, time in which we as Unions have been involved in the improvement of the socio-economic conditions in this company, such as: incorporation of social insurance in the fields, provision of medical care beyond what the law demands – since the 60s we have a hospital that offers all medical specialties – we have a prime collective agreement that any other company in the country cannot surpass, we are certified with more than 8 national and international certifications and even more, we have received more than 10 awards granted by the National Council of Occupational Health and Safety of Nicaragua, which is a tripartite body composed of Nicaraguan State Ministries, trade unions and private enterprises with national representation and universities.

We feel directly affected when in publications such as yours you point out that this company has grueling working hours and workers are not guaranteed appropriate health conditions. I say this because as representative of the workers, we are 100% committed every day that all workers of this company enjoy the rights that the law commands and we not only conform to that, we go beyond, a clear example is our Collective Agreement.

Let me enumerate some of the conditions of cane cutters at Ingenio San Antonio, popularly known as Paileros:

  1. Their average monthly income (salary) nearly triples the minimum wage that exists in Nicaragua for agricultural workers.
  2. Those who work the most enjoy a six-hour workday, with breaks on that same day.
  3. There is a health surveillance system with technical and medical staff involved, which day to day accompanies them in the fields.
  4. There are sanitary services, awnings for shadow, water reserves.
  5. As a complement for hydration, they are provided hydrating beverages similar to GATORADE.
  6. As food supplement they are given lunch that is monitored by a nutritionist from the Hospital.
  7. And even more, when a worker has any health problem, so that he doesn’t have to go to the hospital, there is a mobile medical clinic on a permanent basis, ready to assist them in the workplace, among other benefits.

All this has been the result of our negotiations with Ingenio San Antonio; this is why I say to you that when this type of information is published we feel it is an outrage to us. To date, there are many organizations that claim they are in a noble cause with our workers and ex workers, as is the case of La Isla Foundation, but them and many others are in an office and do not see the realities that currently exist at Ingenio San Antonio.

We are tired of this kind of abuses and instead I invite you to continue searching constructively the reasons why people are getting sick with Chronic Kidney Disease, which is an illness present at an international level, to look for the support of major health organizations to help us assist the people that are currently affected, and instead of publishing news like yours, rather to encourage other companies in the world to continue to do what we have done as preventive measures to create a better working environment in all companies around the world.

Yours very sincerely,

Marvin Antonio Guzman Vargas

General Secretary

Democratic Workers Union



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