GMB International Solidarity Fund

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Many tropical fruit workers in Latin America live in poverty and their most basic rights fail to be respected in the workplace. The GMB International Solidarity Fund enables branches and regions to directly support the organising, legal and education work of Latin American agricultural trade unions. These unions need our solidarity to defend the rights of plantation workers and empower representatives to collectively bargain for Decent Work.

Donate to the GMB International Solidarity Fund

Freedom & Fairness for Fyffes Workers in Central America
 
The GMB has given significant support to the global campaign seeking to get the multinational giant Fyffes to respect labour rights on their plantations in Costa Rica and Honduras. Fyffes has been suspended from the UK's Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and are now in negotiations with the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) to reach a mutually agreeable framework for engagement between local unions and management.
 
 
A new banana workers union in Ecuador
 
GMB support has also helped with the recent establishment of a new banana workers' union in Ecuador. Formed in September 2017, SINUTRABE (the National Union of Ecuadorian Banana Workers) was formed to organise men and women across the industry in a country where union membership remains very low. 
 
The new union represents around two thousand workers, only some of whom currently enjoy collective bargaining agreements with their employers. The union is  involved in the current fight within the country against the attempts of the newly elected business-friendly government, to reverse nearly ten years of positive labour legislation and minimum wage increases introduced under former President Rafael Correa. 
 
Labour rights on Rainforest Alliance certified plantations
 
A large proportion of the bananas sold in UK supermarkets are certified by the Rainforest Alliance. However, despite the claims of the Alliance, that their production is sustainable, labour rights are not respected on many certified plantations. GMB and Banana Link have been instrumental in forming a global alliance of unions and NGOs who have raised concerns about this issue with the certifier. As a result, Rainforest are now in dialogue with plantation workers' unions in Latin America to address concerns about lack of Freedom of Association on certified plantations.  
 
Fending off the bailiffs in Peru  
 
The export agriculture sector in Peru has grown rapidly in recent years. In the midst of this, SITAG, the Peruvian Agricultural Workers’ Union, has been able to negotiate an historic framework agreement on trade union rights with seven banana producers’ associations, which has provided proper recognition of SITAG and formalised the deduction of union subscriptions by the employers.   
 
Howver, as the Peruvian government will not allow SITAG to hold a bank account in its own name to hold members subs, the union was, in March this year, facing mounting debts and the threat of their office being seized, along with the cutting off services. Thanks to an emergency donation from the GMB, the threat was averted, but the union still faces the problem that employers still cannot pay union subscriptions deducted from workers' wages into a union bank account, despite wanting to do so. 
 
 

Download the GMB Annual Reports

Annual Report 2017/18

Annual Report 2016/17

Annual Report 2015/16

Annual Report 2014/15

Annual Report 2013

 

Help us achieve more

The funds raised so far are providing crucial capacity building for unions and their members facing the daily reality of labour problems across the Latin American agricultural sector. Ask your branch to support the fund today to help our union brothers and sisters in their struggle.

Download sign-up form. We will add you to our mailing list and keep you informed about developments, and send requests for online solidarity actions from our partners. You will also be invited to join the committee managing the fund.

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer says...

The aim of this joint project with Banana Link is to create a sustainable funding base for our international solidarity activities and to enable branches to play a more active part in them. The funds raised will go towards developing what has become a cornerstone of GMB's foreign policy, i.e. support for trade unions representing members working on Latin America's tropical fruit plantations.

We as trade unionists are fighting a veritable war against a pernicious capitalist system that puts profits before people, makes a virtue out of greed and is exploiting people the world over. Nowhere is this more graphcially illustrated than in the banana and pineapple plantations of the Americas where our fellow trade unionists struggle against overwhelming odds to improve the lot of their members producing fruit for British supermarkets.

Related news stories

International delegation gathers further evidence of labour rights violations at Fyffes subsidiaries in Costa Rica and Honduras 

 
 

 

For more information

Contact Jacqui Mackay on 01603 765670 or info@bananalink.org.uk