News archive

CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS?! UK retail continues to bury its head on banana pricing 05.11.2013
British retail buyers are acutely aware that the price wars (and 'promises') on their biggest food line cannot continue much longer. They are aware that selling loose bananas at 68p per kilo is destroying banana value for producers and workers worldwide. They are also aware that producers' costs continue to rise faster than the gradual reduction in banana import tariffs into the EU. They are aware that decent work in these chains is a goal that is put on hold as long as bananas are bought and sold too cheaply.But so far none of them has managed to convince the commercial leadership of their...
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Women workers gaining ground in Cameroon 05.11.2013
As part of our three year Comic Relief funded project, ‘Secure Decent Work in tropical fruit production’, in West Africa, we have just run a successful workshop in Cameroon to raise awareness of gender issues among staff representatives so that they can ensure issues affecting women in the workplace are addressed. The workshop, which involved 137 participants, 31 of whom were women, highlighted a number of critical issues specifically affecting women. These included pregnant women having to board the same cramped transport to the plantations as other workers, maternity leave being too short,...
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Is Noboa close to bankruptcy? 14.10.2013
Exportadora Bananera Noboa, (producer of Bonita brand bananas) was the largest banana exporter in Ecuador and, until recently, one of the big five banana companies in the world, alongside Fyffes and the three US based giants, Dole, Chiquita, and Del Monte. However, the company, owned by Alvaro Noboa, now appears to be on the verge of bankruptcy.The SRI (government revenue body) has confiscated Noboa property worth $100 million in lieu of non-payment of debts from 2005 to the Inland Revenue and to workers as part of a statutory profit-sharing scheme. In May the government confiscated the giant...
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Tres Hermanas continues to stall on negotiations 14.10.2013
In the Tres Hermanas plantations in northern Honduras the battle to secure negotiations between the members of SITRAINBA and the company is far from over. The Labour Ministry tried to convene a process of conciliation between the parties, but the company still refuses any dialogue with SITRAINBA.It has therefore been impossible to prevent the company from putting in place a series of measures against SITRAINBA members in the farms: it has reduced wages to union members (some workers are earning 10% less than the minimum daily wage as a result) and threatens to fire people if they do not give...
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Two Costa Rican workers reinstated 31.07.2013
In August 2007, Albertina Muñoz Castrillo was sacked by the cassava producing company Caribbean Best S.A. in Costa Rica's Atlantic zone. A year later, the same company sacked Consuelo Soto Jiménez, alleging in the case of both women that they had committed serious faults. However, as the courts eventually demonstrated, their real 'fault', from the employer's point of view, was to have joined the SITRAP trade union.On 23rd July 2013, accompanied by the union's General Secretary, the two women went to their former workplace to claim their jobs back, as the Supreme Court had ordered. In the case...
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Camposol Peru: not the ethical champions they claim to be 31.07.2013
Peru's leading horticulture company, Camposol, laid off a large group of trade union members at their huge grape farm in Piura as part of a major retrenchment in mid-January 2013. Many of the members of SITAG-Peru had worked for the company for more than four years. The union alleged that these workers were replaced with non-union workers.However, at a meeting between the parties in April, Camposol committed itself to take back the workers they claimed they had had to lay off because of seasonal changes in working patterns. In a letter to the union on June 19th, Camposol reiterated this...
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Honduras: New agricultural union federation! 17.07.2013
The Honduran agricultural trade union federation COSIBAH has come a long way since its creation 19 years ago. From the beginning the coordinating body promoted an ambitious gender programme and union representative training programme, later transforming individual company unions into industrial unions in order to increase membership; and more recently with the creation of theSTAS Union (Union of Agroindustrial and Allied Workers) - which it considers to be the most important achievement of the agricultural sector in the last couple of years - COSIBAH has now fulfilled the goals it set itself...
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ILO chief visits Costa Rica at critical time for labour reforms 10.07.2013
The Director General of the International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder, visited Costa Rica this week at a critical time for the long-awaited reforms to the Labour Code. In 2012, President Laura Chinchilla had vetoed a package of reforms that had been approved by a large majority of members of the Parliament.Discussions, led by the President's office, have been under way for several months with employers and trade unions over the package of measures to be sent back to the Parliament. In some cases these are measures that successive Costa Rican governments have been promising the ILO since...
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Anniversary of the 'Changuinola Massacre', 8th July 2010 10.07.2013
This week marks the third anniversary of shocking acts of police violence against striking banana workers in the Caribbean coastal province of Bocas del Toro in Panama. On July 2nd 2010, over four thousand workers belonging to the Union of Banana Industry Workers (SITRAIBANA) in Changuinola voted to strike over the company's decision to stop deducting union fees at source. Anger had been building amongst workers after the introduction of controversial new legislation. The new laws were packaged together in “Law 30” which undermined fundamental rights such as the right to strike and freedom of...
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Guatemala; most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. 25.06.2013
Guatemala has become the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists, according to the new ITUC Report on Violations of Trade Union Rights. Since 2007, at least 53 union leaders and representatives have been killed, and there have been numerous acts of attempted murder, torture, kidnapping, break-ins and death threats, which have created a culture of fear and violence where the exercise of trade union rights becomes impossible. Activists in the banana sector have been disproportionately targeted however international solidarity with British trade unions is supporting organising...
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