Fyffes has sunk even lower, dismissing all security staff who had joined the Union of Workers in Agroindustry and Allied Trades (STAS) from its melon plantations.
The process of organising a sub-branch of the STAS union among security staff at Melon Export SA (Melexsa), one of three of Fyffes’s subsidiaries in Honduras, had been undertaken with great care and in total secrecy in order to avoid attacks from the company.
Unfortunately, this was not enough to prevent Fyffes, once more, from showing contempt for the rights of its men and women workers.
“We held a mass meeting, and we constituted the sub-branch. We were collecting all the documentation needed in order to gain entitlement to union rights when the company began to dismiss us”, said Gerson Galo Torres (general secretary of the STAS sub-branch) to the Latin American branch of the IUF.
“They called us into the office of the human resources manager, Juan Carlos Rosales, and they told us it was due to staff restructuring. But we know it was in retaliation for us having unionised”, added Galo.
Out of approximately 65 workers employed in security, around 47 had joined the sub-branch. In less than a week they had all been dismissed.
According to information supplied by the unlawfully dismissed workers, Melon Export (Melexsa) as well as Sur Agrícola de Honduras (Suragroh) are now outsourcing their security operations.
Fyffes continues to violate workers’ rights.
A protest campaign is under way
The decision to organise into a union was a response to the lack of guarantees of working conditions. Just like the workers on the melon plantations, the security staff could see that their rights as workers were being cut back daily.
They did not receive the legal minimum wage, nor payments for overtime, night work, working on public holidays or on weekly rest days.
Nor were their social security contributions paid, and they did not have life insurance or grants towards school fees. Employee abuse was the order of the day.
“We only wanted to defend our rights. By unlawfully dismissing us and throwing us onto the street, the company has again shown its true face”, commented Galo.
“Let us hope that the situation in which we find ourselves will cause more people all over the world to join the campaign against Fyffes”, added the trade union officer.
The campaign “Freedom and fairness for Fyffes workers", coordinated by Banana Link with the support of several international organisations, including the IUF, was launched on 23 January. On 26 January, our International organisation launched its own campaign: “The fresh fruit giant Fyffes savages human rights”.
In addition to sending an email to demand that Fyffes sits down and negotiates decent working conditions and fair wages, and guarantees trade union freedom and the right to collective bargaining, the campaign will roll out actions in different countries across Europe and in the United States.
This week, within the framework of the EUROBAN (1) meeting, 28 organisations from Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and the United States demonstrated in Bologna, Italy, to demand that the new owners of Fyffes address the continual infringements of worker and union rights on its plantations in Costa Rica and Honduras as quickly as possible.