News archive

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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Back from the brink: Agreement in Colombia 19.06.2013
After several months of negotiations and over two weeks of high tension since the union's members voted for strike action, a deal was reached in the early hours of this morning between banana workers and the industry. The strike had been scheduled to start today in 288 Colombian banana farms.The agreement on a new two-year collective bargaining agreement for nearly 20,000 workers puts an end to speculation that consumer markets would be affected by a strike. Nearly one third of all bananas exported from the Urabá region of Northern Colombia are consumed in Britain.The agreement is for a 4%...
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The Ivory Coast: Compagnie Fruitière plans banana investment 11.06.2013
President Robert Fabre announced that his company planned investment in the Ivory Coast that would double the country’s annual banana exports to 500K MT.Compagnie Fruitière already accounts for the majority of the Ivory Coast’s banana exports. The balance is shipped through OCAB (Ivoran Exporters of Bananas and Pineapple) members. Mr Fabre said his company is also planning an agricultural infrastructure project in the north of the country away from the coast that would reduce the West African nation’s dependence on imported vegetables. The increase in duty free West African banana production...
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COLSIBA celebrates 20 years as the international voice of banana workers 11.06.2013
Delegates representing COLSIBA's 70,000 members in nine countries gathered in the Honduran business capital, San Pedro Sula, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the organisation that is seen to represent the united voice of banana plantation and packhouse workers from Guatemala to Peru.The Latin American banana and agroindustrial workers' union coordinating body was born near San José, Costa Rica, in May 1993, just as the European Union was about to announce its controversial single banana import regime. Since then COLSIBA has played a key role in presenting alternatives to trade policies...
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Imminent banana workers' strike in Colombia: the buyers' responsibility? 05.06.2013
The Colombian national agricultural workers' union Sintrainagro has announced that its 20,000 members employed in the banana industry will come out on strike in response to the employers' proposal to reduce wage rates and cut social benefits. This follows weeks of negotiations between Sintrainagro and Augura, the industry body in Colombia's Urabá region. The start-date is being determined by a strike committee elected yesterday, following a ballot of members that supported industrial action.More than one banana in five imported into Britain currently is grown in Colombia, and over a third of...
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Costa Rican workers reinstated!!! 01.05.2013
Nearly five years after they were fired from their jobs at the giant Piña Frut pineapple farm, belonging to Grupo Acon, Leonora Mullins and Eddy Aguilar are back at work. Their union, SITRAP,  took their case for unfair sacking to court.An initial court resolution ordered their resintatement back in April 2012, but was challenged by the company and the appeal against the court order went to the Supreme Court. In October, the Supreme Court backed the resolution ordering reinstatement and back pay for the two workers. At a meeting with Grupo Acon's Human Resources Manager on Friday 26th April...
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Del Monte gets OK to import biotech pineapple 29.04.2013
An international fruit company has won approval from the USDA to ship genetically engineered pineapple into the U.S.The Del Monte Fresh Produce Co., based in the Cayman Islands, has developed a transgenic pineapple that has tissue of a "novel rose color."The company has altered the fruit to "overexpress" a gene derived from the tangerine and to suppress other genes, increasing accumulation of lycopene, a natural chemical, according to its submission to the USDA.The plant's flowering cycle has also been changed to provide for more uniform growth and quality.USDA's Animal and Plant Health...
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Costa Rican agroindustrial workers' federation plans ahead 03.04.2013
Representatives of the four trade unions that make up the new Costa Rican agroindustrial workers' federation - SINTRASTAFCOR, SINTRACOBAL, SITRAP and SINTRAPIFRUT – met in Siquirres on 23rd March. General secretary, Maikol Hernandez, underlined the huge challenges ahead in organising plantation and packhouse workers, as well as those employed in security, transport and logistics between plantations and the port.It was agreed that the private sector unions would need the support of public sector workers' unions and other sections of Costa Rican society if they were to change the anti-union...
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Surviving Panama's banana crisis cooperatively 03.04.2013
Near the archetypal banana town of Changuinola in Panama’s North Western province of Bocas del Toro, just a few kilometres from the Rio Sixaola – and Costa Rica on the other side – are three unusual banana plantations. Many would have predicted that these plantations would not survive the dramatic decline in Panama’s banana exports that has taken place in recent years.What makes the plantations unusual is that they are run by a cooperative of former Chiquita workers. But unlike a more recent cooperative of former Chiquita workers on the Pacific coast of Panama, this cooperative has survived...
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