Representatives of over 18,000 banana workers and 266 growers, have concluded a new two-year collective bargaining agreement in just 19 days of negotiation.
Despite difficult conditions for Colombian fruit on international markets, Latin America's biggest banana workers' union, SINTRAINAGRO, has secured a broad agreement with the industry in Urabá, the country's main exporting region. The agreement includes an increase in wage rates of 6% in the first year and an increase in line with the Consumer Price Index for the second year.
The housing fund, jointly managed by the union and the employers, will receive a contribution of 200,000 pesos (29 US dollars) per hectare planted. Two thirds of SINTRAINAGRO members have their own house thanks to these funds and many others have benefited by being able to finance repairs to their existing homes.
A fresh injection of US$320,000 for education, recreation, sport and cultural activities over the two-year life of the agreement was negotiated. Other benefits in the agreement include higher levels of support for transport to work, for medical check-ups and for union leaders on union business. A permanent joint committee to discuss the development of the industry was also set up.
On the thorny issue of contracting, the parties agreed not to have any recourse to sub-contracting, thereby guaranteeing job security.
'This is a model agreement, achieved in a very short time and without recourse to industrial action, which is appreciable given the serious difficulties faced by many workers in the country today', concluded SINTRAINAGRO's President, Guillermo Rivera.
For Juan Camilo Restrepo, president of industry association Augura, the dialogue and negotiation process is a clear demonstration of mutual respect and the maturity of employee-employer relations. 'We are an example for Colombia and the world; on the basis of dialogue and concertation it is possible to find solutions and agreements of benefit to agroindustry and the producing regions', said Restrepo.
Sources: SINTRAINAGRO and REL-UITA, El Mundo, Medellin. 17/05/2015.