The 5 May announcement by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) that Fyffes are to be temporarily suspended from membership raises hope for workers at their subsidiaries in Costa Rica and Honduras, that labour rights would, in future, be fully and properly respected.
The ETI’s action follows a complaint submitted by Banana Link and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) and upheld by the ETI that Fyffes are in breach of the ETI Base Code by failing to properly respect Freedom of Association and the right to Collective Bargaining and to provide a safe and hygienic workplace on their subsidiaries’ plantations.
Banana Link and the IUF welcome this opportunity for Fyffes to establish a mutually agreeable framework for engagement with local trade unions in Honduras and to introduce effective measures to ensure respect for the labour rights of all workers in its supply chains. We hope that Fyffes will, in future, be able to evidence full compliance with the ETI Base Code of Conduct and thus have their membership restored.
This also comes as welcome news to the Freedom & Fairness for Fyffes Workers campaign, launched in January this year by a global alliance of civil society organisations and trade unions. The campaign is calling on Fyffes to establish and implement a global company wide policy to ensure the respect of workers’ rights throughout its supply chains. The ETI suspension illustrates the seriousness of Fyffes failures to date and an opportunity to remedy these.
The right to form trade unions and the right to organise to collectively bargain, protect workplace rights and improve working conditions, are key aspects of the global human right to Freedom of Association. Individual workers should be free to exercise their right to join a trade union, without action by employers to restrict that right, or to coerce workers to renounce their rights, as has been evidenced at Fyffes subsidiaries.
A tragic illustration of the vehemently anti-union culture that currently exists at Fyffes subsidiaries’ plantations in Honduras was the armed attack last month on Moisés Sánchez, union organiser at Fyffes’ subsidiary in Honduras, in which the message of the assailants was clear: if he continued his union activities he risked death.
IUF General Secretary, Ron Oswald said, “ Fyffes’ new owners Sumitomo and the company’s many retailers should seriously reflect on the seriousness of the ETI’s unprecedented action and now take concrete measures to rectify the abuses highlighted by the ETI and all those who have been campaigning to defend the fundamental human rights of workers in Fyffes’ supply chains.“.
Jacqui Mackay from Banana Link said, “We welcome this action by the ETI, as will the workers at their subsidiaries in Costa Rica and Honduras who have seen their labour rights consistently violated over recent years. We sincerely hope that Fyffes are willing and able to put in place the necessary procedures to ensure Freedom of Association and a safe workplace throughout their global supply chains, and that they are successful in being readmitted to the ETI, as a company in full compliance with the ethical standards of the ETI Base Code”