“THE WORKERS OF SAN QUINTIN VALLEY ARE NO LONGER WILLING TO BE INVISIBLE”
Thousands of workers - who pick strawberries and tomatoes for the US market - went on a two-week strike in protest over their poverty wages. These farm workers, who mainly come from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and make up the bulk of the agricultural workforce in Baja, are paid about US$9 a day; they were demanding wages of about 300 pesos, or US$24.
Growers bring over whole families, particularly Mixtec and Triqui indigenous peoples, to live in labour camps and housing notorious for poor conditions. The whole operation is reminiscent of the maquiladora [export assembly plants] industry, transplanted into agriculture.
The biggest US distributor, Driscoll’s, claimed its main grower, BerryMex, pays higher rates of US$5 to US$9 per hour - a highly dubious claim, according to activists. The growers want to move towards a code of conduct that avoids any negotiation or contracts with the striking union, the Alianza. At the same time, growers brought more workers up from southern Mexico to break the strike.
Fidel Sanchez, leader of the strike said: “Consumers eat the fruits and the vegetables that these workers are producing, but know next to nothing about the workers themselves. This march, and the strike itself, show that workers are no longer willing to be invisible.”
The daughter of a striking farm worker reads a statement she wrote about the reasons her family went on strike. She wears the distinctive Triqui huipil from her hometown in Oaxaca.
After getting off the bus in Tijuana, striking farm workers line up to march to the border.
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