Following the strong winds in July that flattened over 5000 hectares of bananas - some 15% of the crop - in the main exporting region of Colombia, some seven hundred and fifty workers have been laid off, many indefinitely. Some employers have taken advantage of the need to lay off workers, says national agricultural workers’ union leader Adela Torres, to lay off women. These women, many of whom are single mothers, are now facing a serious social crisis.
“Over a hundred of the workers laid off are women, a far higher proportion than the number of women working in the industry, which is about 5%”, she said. The industry has managed to negotiate with the government to provide a small monthly food voucher for each worker laid off, but this is only worth fifty US dollars, barely enough to feed one person, let alone a whole family. A small proportion of the 750 will also receive an additional fifty dollars a month from Fairtrade premium funds, but only those who work for one of the companies certified by Fairtrade International.
The SINTRAINAGRO union is appealing for external support to help this workers get through the next months of what may, for some, become permanent unemployment. “The priority”, said Adela Torres, General Secretary of the union, “is these women whose households have no other sources of income at all.”
Source: SINTRAINAGRO/COLSIBA, Apartado.
Banana Link has launched an appeal on behalf of SINTRAINAGRO:
SOS FOR WOMEN BANANA WORKERS!!
More than 100 women have already directly affected by lay offs in the Colombian banana industry following storms that hit Uraba in July. Their union, SINTRAINAGRO, is launching an SOS to try and avoid major social problems as a consequence of these job losses.
3000 direct jobs in the industry have been put in jeopardy. Despite the announcement by the Agriculture Minister, Aurelio Iragorri, that banana and plantain growers would receive help, employers have so far opted to lay off 750 workers, including a disproportionate number of women, many of whom are heads of household. Their contracts have been suspended, some indefinitely. Some of the women have health problems and disabilities. Trees felled by the strong winds have also damaged some of the workers’ houses leaving them in a desperate situation.
SINTRAINAGRO is appealing to the international community to help this workers get through the next months of what may, for some, become permanent unemployment. “The priority”, said Adela Torres, General Secretary of the union, “is these women whose households have no other sources of income at all.”
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