TEGUCIGALPA - Workers in Central American are accusing 'maquila' factory owners of using the coronavirus crisis as a way to cut wages, layoff workers and even block efforts to form unions.

The largely duty and tariff-free 'maquila' factories, which turn raw materials into finished products for export, can be found throughout Latin America, including Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Nicaragua.

In Honduras, most factories closed down after the government barred groups larger than 50 from gathering to stem the spread of COVID-19, but some apparel factories, including a factory operated by Canadian brand Gildan, where 2,400 workers make T-shirts and sweatshirts for export, remained open.

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