The GMB International Solidarity Fund enables branches and regions to directly support the organising, education and legal work of Latin American agricultural trade unions. Tropical fruit workers in Latin America continue to suffer basic rights abuses and live in poverty conditions. The unions that support these workers need our solidarity to defend the rights of workers, empower representatives to collectively bargain for Decent Work and engage in advocacy for legal reform.
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Historic Moment in Costa Rica’s Labour History
The agreement signed on 10th January is the first new CBA signed between an independent trade union and a multinational fruit brand since the industry and powerful allies attempted to wipe unions off the map at the height of the Cold War. The CBA includes a series of important clauses giving worker representatives on plantations the time and facilities to meet freely and present grievances and ideas to management through regular dialogue.
Photo: SITRAP negotiator Geilyn Arriola Araya signing the new CBA (SITRAP)
GMB Supporting SITRAP for Over 15 Years
Didier Leiton, SITRAP General Secretary, expressed his gratitude for support and was thrilled the GMB were able to attend their AGM in January which brought 700 members and their families together to celebrate the historic moment for the Costa Rican union. Solidarity between GMB and SITRAP over the last 15 years has been invaluable in building the union’s education and organising capacity. SITRAP's success of signing this CBA shows the powerful role of international solidarity in challenging union repression on a global scale.
SITRAP are optimistic that the signing of this CBA bodes well for organised workers being able to negotiate similar agreements at other plantations in Costa Rica. For all but the first 10 years of its existence, SITRAP has operated in a hostile environment with employers and large companies, and labour legislation that challenged the right to freedom of association. Its for this reason that members, and the union’s leadership, see this as a critical breakthrough after years of patience, education, organising and constructive dialogue.
Organisational Strengthening & Advocacy for Reform in Peru
The GMB has supported SITAG-Peru (Peruvian Agricultural Workers’ Union)
for several years as the union have had many challenges to overcome including devastating floods and imminent repossession of their office. The Peruvian government does not allow SITAG to hold a bank account in its own name meaning employers still cannot pay subscription deductions from workers' wages into a union bank account, despite wanting to do so; this of course leaves the union in a financially vulnerable position.
Despite the numerous challenges and thanks to GMB and Banana Link support, in the past year SITAG successfully sought legal advice which led to the reinstatement of 5 workers who were found to have been wrongfully dismissed
by CEPIBO (Association of small scale producers of organic bananas in Piura, Peru) and have been able to continue defending many other workers who are fighting cases of unfair dismissal.
SITAG and other members of the union federation FENTRAIR
have engaged in advocacy for the reform of Law 27360, which saw a reduction in social benefits for agrarian workers. The union has been holding workshops to educate workers on their rights and how to secure them through a union, as well as engaging them in advocacy for this labour law reform.
Photo: Members marching for the repeal of Law 27360 (FENTRAIR)
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Help us achieve more
The funds raised so far are providing crucial capacity building for unions and their members facing the daily reality of labour problems across the Latin American agricultural sector. Ask your branch to support the fund today to help our union brothers and sisters in their struggle.
Download sign-up form. We will add you to our mailing list and keep you informed about developments, and send requests for online solidarity actions from our partners. You will also be invited to join the committee managing the fund.
Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer says...
The aim of this joint project with Banana Link is to create a sustainable funding base for our international solidarity activities and to enable branches to play a more active part in them. The funds raised will go towards developing what has become a cornerstone of GMB's foreign policy, i.e. support for trade unions representing members working on Latin America's tropical fruit plantations.
We as trade unionists are fighting a veritable war against a pernicious capitalist system that puts profits before people, makes a virtue out of greed and is exploiting people the world over. Nowhere is this more graphcially illustrated than in the banana and pineapple plantations of the Americas where our fellow trade unionists struggle against overwhelming odds to improve the lot of their members producing fruit for British supermarkets.
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Contact Jacqui Mackay on 01603 765670 or email@example.com