Ecuador is the world’s largest banana producing country. However, women represent only 5% of this workforce because they are viewed as 'high cost, high risk' employees. Women workers face discrimination, harassment, and multiple health and safety risks, and are often unaware of their rights and how to defend them. This is exasperated by trade union discrimination; less than 5% of Ecuadorian agro-industrial workers are organised.
A new banana workers union in Ecuador
SINUTRABE has replaced the more or less inactive National Federation of Agro-industrial Workers and Small Farmers (FENACLE), with whom Banana Link work with for many years. Financial support from the GMB International Solidarity Fund and the charitable foundation of UIA Insurance had contributed to financing the work FENACLE's Women's Officer, contributing to acheiving:
- an increase in women's membership in the union at the local level
- increase in education activities and producing publications on subjects relevant to women, to help raise awareness and overcome the cultural barriers to women entering salaried employment in rural communities
- successful negotiation of specific gender clauses in two CBAs
- empowering women in leadership roles through increasing participation of women in the FENACLE Executive Committee, to support the work of the Women's Secretary locally
- creation women's committees in each local organisation, to collaborate with the Women's Secretariat at the national level of FENACLE
This support is now being provided to SINUTRABE, where FENACLE's Women's Officer has now taken on that role for the new union.
Banana Link support enables women's trade union workshop in Ecuador