News archive

New banana giant 10.03.2014
The news that Chiquita and Fyffes are to merge is doubtless a reflection of the way the banana market has been going for the last 15-20 years. Two big fruit companies have felt the downward pressure of the big retail buyers on their margins and consolidation appears to them to be a strategy for survival. Historically, the two companies were linked, but since the 1980s they have been competitors. The need for consolidation in the face of huge retail buyer power would appear to be the main driver in this merger.   Banana Link's International Coordinator, Alistair Smith, highlighted concern...
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Making banana prices fair 24.02.2014
Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 marks the launch of Make Bananas Fair! a unique opportunity to transform the banana industry and ensure that farmers and workers at the sharp end of the supply chain, get a fair deal. Banana Link welcomes the campaign  which will ask Vince Cable, as Secretary of State for Business, to urgently investigate the impact of unsustainable supermarket pricing. In 2000 the first Fairtrade banana appeared in British supermarkets. Two years later Asda/Walmart began the bitter banana price wars that continue to this day.   'The impacts of 'the Race to the Bottom' in the...
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Battle for Banana Livelihoods 10.02.2014
In an industry that has always been dominated by labor-intensive, large-scale production, the struggle for small-scale producers to stay in the market has always seemed like David and Goliath. The farmers of the three Windward Islands in the Caribbean have all the comparative disadvantages in the textbook, but, thanks to their strategy to market their bananas as Fairtrade, several thousand have managed to sustain livelihoods against almost all the odds.   But the arrival of Black Sigatoka fungal disease and repeated climatic disasters risk putting them out of business for good. Yet another...
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Surinamese workers encouraged by banana company privatisation 29.01.2014
Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Suriname and UNIVEG announced the completion of the privatisation process of former state-owned Surinam banana company, SBBS (“Stichting Behoud Bananen Sector”). The Belgian fruit company Univeg, which has been marketing most of the production from the country's two large plantations for several years, is to own 90% of SBBS. The remaining 10% of shares will remain in the hands of the government. Leader of trade union Bacoven Arbeiders Bond Nickerie, Dayanand Dwarka, told Banana Link, that workers were optimistic for the future of the...
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Make Bananas Fair! this Fairtrade Fortnight 27.01.2014
Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 marks the launch of Make Bananas Fair! a unique campaign aiming to transform the banana industry to ensure that banana farmers and workers, those at the sharp end of the supply chain, get a fair deal.Fairtrade bananas appeared on British supermarket shelves 13 years ago and now a massive one in three bananas sold in the UK are Fairtrade certified. Yet despite this achievement there remains a serious problem at the heart of the banana business. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, 'as global exports have grown, many banana farmers and workers have seen their earnings...
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New Hired Labour Standard for Fairtrade 27.01.2014
Fairtrade International has published a new Hired Labour Standard. This follows a long process of consultation – including 18 workshops in 14 countries with workers – and significant engagement with trade unions and labour rights organisations, with guidance and support from the Fairtrade’s Workers’ Rights Advisory Committee. "Banana Link welcomes the inclusion of a Freedom of Association Protocol and a Right to Organise Guarantee, among other new elements, that strengthen Fairtrade’s standards for hired labour. Banana Link and our partners are pleased to have played a role in this process...
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The Year is Drawing to a Close 27.01.2014
For agricultural workers in Peru, the year ended with many significant labour, social and economic problems unresolved and continued discrimination, in many forms.FENTAGRO, the National Federation of Agricultural Workers in Peru, believe that it is difficult for their members to wish each other “Happy New Year”. ‘The efforts we have made to achieve better living conditions remain but a hope, because each day our way of life requires greater effort and sacrifice and years of work weigh on our shoulders. Today we find ourselves facing health problems and abandoned by a State that is only...
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EMERGENCY APPEAL: Caribbean Fairtrade banana farmers savaged by storms at Christmas 22.01.2014
Torrential rains and severe winds battered the Caribbean Islands of St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica for over 24 hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day devastating rural communities and banana production. The government has declared this a level 2 disaster, meaning that they now need external support to respond to the destruction caused by the storm. Our partner, the Caribbean Farmer's Association, WINFA, are appealing for help on behalf of the estimated 700 small farmers affected. Floods and landslides severely damaged roads, bridges, sanitation supplies and...
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Defending workers’ rights in banana plantations in Guatemala 13.01.2014
Banana Link, in partnership with TUC Aid, is helping unions in banana plantations in Guatemala to build capacity to defend workers’ rights. Below is a report on recent progress and the latest successful activities organised under the joint initiative, published in the TUC “International Development Matters” e-bulletin this month: “TUC Aid, in partnership with Banana Link, is building the capacity of trade unions in the banana plantations in Guatemala through a programme of training and education. The first training workshop organised under the joint initiative launched [in early 2013] took...
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Honduran banana shippers faces US ban 17.12.2013
The Federation of Agribusiness Trade Unions says 13 producers have been ‘de-certified’ for labour rights violations and cannot now ship bananas to the US.According to reports in the Honduran Press the ban follows a report by the Rainforest Alliance, which visited the country in early November. Singled out for criticism was the ‘Las Tres Hermanas’ plantation, which is where the delegation found the worst abuses of labour rights. Union federation Festagro is the new name for Cosibah, which was formed in 1994 to protect workers’ rights. Source: Reefer Trends © 2000 - 2013
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