News archive

Fairtrade banana crisis brewing in Colombia 12.12.2012
Reefer Trends reports on the crisis in the Colombian industry,‘In the last few weeks the crisis has started to bite and producers have had to choose between paying workers their full wages and benefits or applying inputs.’This is the stark assessment made by NGO Banana Link in describing the situation of the banana industry in Colombia. Despite being at the top end of the scale in terms of compliance with core ethical standards such as freedom of association, living wages, stable employment contracts and decent working conditions and despite enjoying the best industrial relations in the Latin...
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Banana dispute officially ends 12.11.2012
Representatives from the European Union and ten Latin American countries have signed a landmark agreement on banana imports into the EU, ending one of the longest-running disputes in the history of international trade, reports Fruitnet’s Mike Knowles. "This is a truly historic moment,“ said WTO director general Pascal Lamy, who has worked for many years to broker a deal between all parties involved."After so many twists and turns, these complicated and politically contentious disputes can finally be put to bed. It has taken so long that quite a few people who worked on the cases, both in the...
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Guatemalan trade union leader visits UK calling for an end to violent attacks 27.10.2012
At the end of October the TUC hosted a visit to London by Noé Ramirez Portela, General Secretary of the Izabal Banana Workers' Union of Guatemala (SITRABI) - the oldest private sector union in the country, organising workers in Del Monte-owned banana plantations on the Caribbean coast. Commenting on the visit TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:"Tragically Guatemala is now the second most dangerous country in the world in which to be a trade unionist and last year SITRABI was the union hardest hit by violence."Noé was elected General Secretary of SITRABI in 2000 shortly after the union'...
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Ecuador government legislates in face of mounting pressures 28.09.2012
The government of the world's largest banana exporting country has this week announced labour law reforms that would tighten rules on social security registration and extend breastfeeding and childcare rights for working mothers. The government is also reported to be preparing stricter legislation on aerial spraying of chemicals in and around banana plantations. This comes at a time when consumers – as well as affected workers and communities - are increasingly concerned about conditions in the Ecuadorian industry. New legislation in the shape of the Law for the Defence of Workers' Rights,...
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Dole seeks to invest more in Ecuador 26.09.2012
In a little reported meeting last week at the Presidential Palace in Quito, the owner of Dole Food Co., David Murdock met with Rafael Correa to discuss new investment by the world's largest fruit company in both banana production and scientific research.As well as seeking to make investment in new plantations – up to 3,000 hectares according to some reports – Dole proposed to provide scientific support for the Yachay project, an ambitious proposal by the Ecuadorian government to « revolutionise higher education and research in the country ». Dole proposed a link-up with its nutrition research...
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Dole begins payments to Central American banana workers 18.09.2012
U.S. fruit giant Dole Food Company, Inc. this week began paying a settlement to some 5,000 former Central American banana workers who sued the company for exposing them to the harmful pesticides Nemagon and Fumazone while they worked for the company.The agreement terminates 38 lawsuits filed in the United States and Nicaragua alleging pesticide-related injuries, the company said.The complaints concerned pesticides sprayed on crops to control worms for over two decades, before they were banned in 1977 following reports of infertility among male workers exposed to them.The terminated lawsuits...
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Ecuador: Wave of union-busting by banana companies 17.09.2012
In the last few weeks in the Provinces of Los Rios and Guayas, five new trade unions have been broken up in plantations belonging to national and international banana companies. A total of 159 workers have been fired. It would appear that all were unfairly dismissed for the simple fact that they wanted to form or join a union. The National Federation of  Free Agroindustrial Workers, Peasant Farmers and Indigenous People  of Ecuador (FENACLE) has been supporting the establishment of these unions and sees in the wave of union-busting and armed evictions a concerted policy by a sector within the...
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Costa Rica: Labour reforms approved in Parliament 17.09.2012
San José, 13th September: The Costa Rican Parliament today approved a large package of labour law reforms. Some hail the almost unanimous vote as the most significant advances in justice for workers since the Labour Code was created 60 years ago. The package of reforms will speed up conflict resolution processes in the country's legal system, strengthen collective bargaining rights in the public sector and improve some trade union rights.  Highly controversial clauses that would have enshrined in law the role of so-called 'permanent workers' committees' and the 'direct settlements' they sign...
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“Pineapple Republic” 17.09.2012
The pineapple industry and the Government owe Costa Rican society explanations No other activity is as profitable as pineapple production – mining the soil, worker exploitation and pollution.  It generated $743 million in sales in 2011 and employs 20,000 people.  The question which must be asked is: where does this wealth go? How much tax is paid, and who is bearing the impacts and indirect consequences? Where does the wealth go?  For every Euro paid in Europe in buying pineapples, plantation workers receive only 4 cents, whilst traders, plantation owners and multinationals take the...
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Guatemala: dawn of a new banana age? 04.09.2012
Could it be that, as we approach the end of seven thousand years of the now-famous Mayan calendar, a new age of dialogue and good industrial relations could be under construction in an industry and a country plagued by decades of conflict and violence? The Guatemalan banana industry, born in the early years of the 20th century to supply the markets of the cities of the South and East Coast of the United States, entered the 21st century in a phase of rapid expansion. Since 2007, the country has overtaken Central and South American exporters to become the USA's single largest source of bananas...
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