International Solidarity

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Support our Union-to-Union programme

Despite the progress detailed below, many plantation workers continue to live in poverty and their most basic rights fail to be respected within the workplace.  We are therefore appealing for donations to allow us to continue to offer solidarity to our sister unions to challenge the repression of the freedom to organise, educate workers about their rights, and empower their union representatives to collectively bargain for living wages and Decent Work for the men and women that grow the fruit sold on our supermarket shelves. 
 
You can make a one-off donation here:
 
 
Or send a cheque to Banana Link, 42-58 St George's Street, Norwich, NR3 1AB
 
Recommended minimum annual donations: £15 for individuals, £50 for union branches, £100 for union regions/divisions, and £150 for national unions.
 

Union-to-Union solidarity in action achievements in 2016/17

 
Freedom & Fairness for Fyffes Workers!
Banana Link has successfully brought together a global coalition of organisations in a campaign calling on the Irish fruit giant Fyffes to take responsibility for labour rights violations in their supply chains. In June 2017, Fyffes were temporarily suspended from the UK Government’s Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) as a result of evidence, submitted by Banana Link and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), that the company was in breach of the ETI Base Code of Labour Standards. Fyffes are now required to engage with the IUF “to create a mutually agreed framework for engagement” or face dismissal from the ETI.

Watch:

A short video featuring Iris Munguia, Coordinator, COLSIBA (the Regional Coordination of Latin American Banana & Agro-Industrial Workers' Unions) talking to Banana Link about the importance of international support to the mainly women workers facing labour rights violations at subsidiaries of Fyffes in Honduras 
 

Improved organising capacity in Costa Rica

With UNISON support, we have been working to strengthen the organising capacity of SITRAP, the Costa Rican plantation workers union. This is increasing recruitment to the union, particularly new women members as well as successes in legal cases leading to the reinstatement of workers, and increased awareness among members about trade union rights. The plight of pineapple workers has also been put on the national agenda in Costa Rica. Both the Deputy Minister of Labour, Nancy Marin, and member of parliament, Patricia Mora, have visited plantations recently and are raising issues inside and outside Parliament. We also successfully raised money from branches of the GMB union to buy a motorbike for the General Secretary of SITRAP to help his organising work at more than 40 plantations. 
 

Empowering women workers in the Ecuadorian banana and sugar industries

With funds from the UIA Charitable Trust and the GMB, we have continued to support the Women’s Officer, Carmen Banegas (pictured) of FENACLE (National Federation of Agro‐industrial Workers and Small Farmers) to coordinate a range of activities aimed at empowering women workers in the Ecuadorian banana and sugar industries. Among the tangible achievements have been: greater participation of women in the Executive Committee of FENACLE with women now comprising 50% of the committee, women members are now more involved in developing training and carrying out field visits, a definite increase in women’s membership in the union at local level, and more women holding office at all levels of the union.   

Towards collective bargaining in Peru's emerging organic banana industry

After several years of work by our union partner SITAG, an agreement on respecting workers’ rights and union recognition was reached last August between the union and nine producer associations. This is designed to be a building‐block towards the first ever collective agreements in the industry.  

Supporting sacked asparagus workers in Peru

Following the launch of a campaign last year in support of union members sacked by TALSA fruit company in Peru, we have supported mediation attempts, and a proposal by Tesco and COLSIBA for economic compensation and agreement to drop all legal action against the union. Meanwhile, we have raised over £2000 to help rebuild workers homes after they were destroyed in recent devastating floods in Peru.

Organising workers in the traditionally non-union south of Guatemala

Painstaking work to raise awareness of workers in the world’s largest non‐union banana plantation area in the south of the country has started to pay off. Our partner SITRABI, which organises Del Monte workers in the North, is training new young leaders in the vast plantations. With support from the TUC, the US trade union Solidarity Center and the International Trade Union Confederation, and thanks to dialogue with the second biggest company operating in the sector, it is hoped that the violence of the past can be avoided when these efforts go public.
 

Empowering plantation workers in West & Central Africa

Between 2013 and 2016, a Banana Link education and empowerment programme in Cameroon and Ghana achieved measurable improvements in important aspects of workers’ lives, including the negotiation of significant wage increases, threefold increases in awareness of labour rights, reductions in working hours and increased overtime payments, greater provision of personal protective equipment, and significantly fewer workplace accidents and work related illnesses.

Since our programme ended, we have been focusing on work to achieve Living Wages and secure the benefits of Fairtrade certification. We have been actively engaged in the work of the IUF African Banana Workers Network to empower union platforms, participated in the Fairtrade Workers Rights Advisory Council conference in Ghana this year, and are working with IUF Africa to increase and improve women’s employment. Our activity is informed by our research on factors behind the gender pay gap in Ghana.  

Watch:

This brief video about Women taking the lead in promoting safe and healthy working on plantations in Ghana 

Promoting health and safety on plantations

As partners in the global Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI) we have developed the first ever industry specific Health and Safety manual and accompanying training materials for use by companies, worker and small producer representatives. The manual has been published in Ecuador, where training is taking place for government, company and union representatives, while training is also due to begin shortly in Cameroon, benefitting tens of thousands of workers.   
 
2016-17 Donors include:
Birmingham Childrens Hospital
Community - TU
GMB Holborn
GMB London region
GMB Northern region
GMB Plymouth
GMB Scotland
ICTUR
ITF
PCS
Portsmouth Fairtrade
STUC
UNISON
UNISON East Midlands
UNISON NHFT
UNISON Northamptonshire County Branch
UNISON Wolverhampton
UNITE
UNITE Clerkenwell & St Pancras Branch
The Wrekin Division of the NUT
 
 

Featured story

On Saturday 1 July, Alberto Román Acosta González, President of the Guacarí branch of the National Union of Workers in Agricultural Industries (SINTRAINAGRO) in Colombia, was assassinated in the Valle del Cauca’s sugar plantation zone. This attack followed an earlier grenade attack in March this year at SINTRAINAGRO offices in the department of Magdalena, Ciénaga municipality of the country.   In response to this Read more...

Donate

Donations from union supporters towards Banana Link core funds directly strengthen our capacity to put 'solidarity into action'.   Over the last few years Banana Link has secured direct union‐to‐union funding ‐ including key donations from the UNISON International Development Fund and the GMB... Read more...

Workers' testimonies

Washington Orellano - leader of the port worker's association threatened with legal action for criticising his employers. Interview recorded and translated by Jan Nimmo, Puerto Bolívar, Ecuador, May 2003My name is Washington Orellana. I'm general secretary of the Puerto Bolívar Port Workers'... Read more workers' testimonies...