By Keltoum Elhassiah- Casablanca
A day in a small textile factory: poor working conditions, low productivity, loss of customers
In a small, 20-year old factory in Sbata, a neighborhood of Casablanca, several women from the area are working.
This small factory specializes in making clothes for men, women, and children, such as pants, shirts, and jackets. The factory has not a profitable day in 20 years because of poor working conditions, low productivity, and loss of customers.
The factory owner, Bouchaïb Mbarki (or “M. Bouchaïb” as the workers call him) was kind enough to open the factory doors for us. And this is what we found.
Happiness Factory… Really?
At the factory entrance, there is a well decorated door with the words, “wzine Saada”, the happiness factory, written on it. However, when we enter the factory, we discover another reality.
There are ten female workers and some dilapidated machines. Each woman is responsible for her work on a stitcher or sewing machine. The atmosphere is idle and apathetic.
“We work every day from 7 :30 AM to 6.30 PM, and we have only one hour of break from 1 to 2 PM for lunch. The day is hard, very hard,” said Yamna, a young female worker who has worked here for six years.
“The pace of activity is really hard. We ten women have to produce 400 pieces per day,” she adds. After conversations with other workers, it was apparent that the main cause of the lack of labor is due to the coarseness of Bouchaïb. The workers do not like his rudeness and they leave after one week.
Enclaved and isolated, the factory is losing more and more customers, according to the workers. “After 20 years, the factory is able to retain some customers. Unfortunately, we are losing them, but I stay optimistic. With a little luck and a lot of effort by the workers, the factory could reinvent itself and persist,” insists M. Bouchaïb.
The main disavantage for the workers is the salary. They are not satisfied with their treatment. Zahira, a worker at the happiness factory, said, “I am married and have three children. My husband doesn’t work and I only receive 250 Dhs per week. It is really hard for me to provide for my entire house.”
At 1 PM, it is lunch break and workers take their homemade sandwiches from their bags. “One hour of break is insufficient for us. We pray or lunch or take a nap,” says Yamna. She also mentioned that half of her colleagues go to home to see their children.
The End of the Day
After a long day of work, the women are getting ready to leave the factory. They take off their white coats and wish M. Bouchaïb a good evening. The majority of the workers live near the factory, but some take half an hour to get home.
“When the work ends here, there is always more at home. It is really difficult for me because I come home with horrible back pain and a terrible headache due to the constant noise of sewing machines. How do you want us to take care of our homes and our children ?” demands Saâdia, a 38-years-old worker. The women split up and each goes her own way.
Translated by Nahla Landolsi. Edited by Katrina Bushko
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