Campaigns The banana industry has been one of the most highly unionized agricultural sector workforces in the Americas. However, now the ability of these workers to bargain collectively and maintain decent conditions is being threatened. As global production shifts to Africa and direct purchasing by supermarkets such as Walmart and Tesco increases, the undercutting of prices is fueling a downward pressure on wages.
We wish to thank the AFSC, one of our Interfaith partnersfor their interest in exploring some of the complexities of the Fair Trade movement. Coats suggests that if we truly want to see positive change for workers in the Global South, whether in farms or factories, we need to change the rules of trade.
This increased consciousness has led to new models of production and consumption, and a variety of alternative product labels with respect to environmental issues shade-grown coffeehealth organic produceanimal treatment free-range chickensand other concerns.
Labels are intended to provide an easy way for consumers to know which products reflect our values. These trends are now being extended to working conditions and the treatment of workers. Through its Designated Suppliers Programthe anti-sweatshop movement created a set of standards, adopted by a growing number of universities and some municipalities, requiring that the goods purchased by these large institutions be bought from unionized or cooperative producers.
Fair Food The most prominent consumer-oriented social certification in the US is Fair Trade, with a black and white label showing a figure holding evenly balanced scales.
Non-profit groups interested in improving the conditions of small coffee farmers originated the Fair Trade movement in Western Europe. Fair Trade is a rapidly growing business, expanding its certification beyond coffee and cocoa to bananas, pineapples, and flowers, with plans to certify apparel.
Fair Trade activists sought out small, independent farms and cooperatives, and provided them with a way to reach consumers more directly, thus increasing their profits. In return for paying the higher price all this entails, consumers are guaranteed that the producers of their coffee were paid fairly and not deprived of their right to organize.
However, responding in part to growing consumer demand, Fair Trade has in recent years begun to certify food grown by different kinds of producers. For instance, almost all bananas imported to the US — a recent expansion area for Fair Trade — are grown on Latin American plantations, not on small farms or cooperatives.
Some of the plantations which have earned the Fair Trade certification employ hundreds of workers. While Fair Trade has added new criteria for certification that includes how the workers are treated and respect for their basic rights, the expansion of the Fair Trade model to large-scale producers has raised concerns in the labor movement, particularly with banana unions in Latin America banana production is the most thoroughly unionized sector in Central America, with many active unions working in effective coalitions across national and ideological boundaries.
Long-time Fair Trade supporters have raised additional concerns, including opposition to certification of products marketed by transnational corporations e. Dole bananas or Starbucks coffee and whether Fair Trade has erred in moving beyond small-scale producers to large employers like the banana plantations.
The Global Picture While Fair Trade certification is an important instrument for making positive change, the most fundamental issue for workers in the Global South is the rules of global trade.
Since the passage of CAFTA, however, there has been a resurgence in anti-labor violence in Guatemala four trade unionists were assassinated in and another five inwith no charges brought in any of the cases and the US has not been able to apply any meaningful trade pressure to hold the Guatemalan government accountable.
For those of us in the US, this is a key moment to focus on the terms of global trade. Four agreements were negotiated by the Bush Administration. Only one, the Peru Agreement, has been passed. The Peru Agreement went into effect on February 1 ofso this is an area for close observation.
Sustainability On the Line Workers are extremely vulnerable to exploitation right now. For 20 years this pact had provided quotas for the amount of clothing that each developing nation could export to wealthier European and North American markets.
To this, of course, has been added the impact of the global recession, causing downward pressure on wages and working conditions for workers. To wield our greatest power as consumers, we must not only pay a surcharge on some items to cover their real cost — we must also drop a dime and call our Congress members.
We need to hold our governments accountable for strong labor and environmental standards in the agreements that increasingly regulate all global trade, fair and otherwise. Citizens Trade Campaign is a national coalition of environmental, labor, consumer, family farm, religious, and other civil society groups founded in to improve the North American Free Trade Agreement.Ordinarily, the parents are young and rather inexperienced and sometimes even not ready for the child.
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Jul 13, · Children and adults, in interviews, discuss child labor at Los Alamos banana plantation near Puerto Inca, Ecuador; plantation, which employs some 1, workers, is . TAINTED HARVEST. Child Labor and Obstacles to Organizing on Ecuador's Banana Plantations.
Human Rights Watch. New York- Washington- London- Brussels. Chocolate Without Child Labor; Ending Forced Labor in Cotton; Fair Contracts for Tobacco Farmers and benefits on banana plantations in Ecuador and the Pacific coast of Guatemala are some of the worst in Latin America.
Unlike most of its competitors in the region, Ecuador's banana industry is almost completely non-union, as is the Pacific. In large part as a result of campaigns and news stories about sweatshops in the clothing industry, child labor in the coffee and banana sectors, and slave labor on cocoa plantations, companies have become increasingly concerned about their “brand image.”.
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