These Stories Tell The Harsh Realities Of Working In An Overseas Factory
“Every time you buy one of these shirts, please think about it, you are buying a piece of the life of the woman who made it.”
Photojournalist Emily Kinskey’s work highlights the lives of migrants and the living conditions of what she describes as “persecuted subcultures” around the globe. After taking note of the debates on trade and immigration that continue to dominate today’s political landscape, Kinskey traveled to Honduras to further examine the relationship between the US and Latin American maquila workers. Maquilas are factories that often operate duty and tariff free to produce goods that are exported to countries like the United States.
“I interviewed over 40 maquila workers, and each one of them desperately wants the job they have, even if it’s underpaid or they are in chronic pain or it’s not their dream,” Kinskey told BuzzFeed News. “They desire healthy labor conditions, adequate medical treatment for work-related injury, and livable wages, but live in a country where unionization or protest is not protected or is met with violent force.”
Suyapa, 25, wanted to be pictured with her backpack to show that she is paying for her own university classes and studying to be a nurse. To do this, she works from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. selling baleadas, a traditional Honduran breakfast, outside of the maquila industrial park, then attends classes in the afternoons. After classes, she returns home at 4 p.m. and works selling sneakers to the maquila workers, followed by studying into the night for her classes the next day.
Often she only sleeps for an hour or two. Suyapa said on the morning of this photo, she fainted from exhaustion as she walked her 4-year-old to school, and woke up on the sidewalk with a crowd gathering and her son in a panic. Even with this rigorous schedule, she wouldn’t be able to afford classes if her boyfriend wasn’t covering their groceries with his maquila salary.
Nike, Under Armour, Dickies, and Champion have not responded to BuzzFeed News’ requests for comment.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, representatives for Adidas said that their company “only conducts business with manufacturers who work in a fair, honest and responsible manner. We have strict procedures in place to ensure that the individuals employed to make our products are paid and treated fairly. All factories that work with us are subject to regular labor and health and safety audits conducted by independent third parties in association with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and Adidas’ compliance team.”
To see more of Emily Kinskey’s work, visit her website at emilykinskey.com.