The Year is Drawing to a Close

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For agricultural workers in Peru, the year ended with many significant labour, social and economic problems unresolved and continued discrimination, in many forms.

FENTAGRO, the National Federation of Agricultural Workers in Peru, believe that it is difficult for their members to wish each other “Happy New Year”. ‘The efforts we have made to achieve better living conditions remain but a hope, because each day our way of life requires greater effort and sacrifice and years of work weigh on our shoulders. Today we find ourselves facing health problems and abandoned by a State that is only concerned about itself and about guaranteeing “capital investment”, without a care for the living conditions of more than 250,000 workers.

For more than 13 years agribusiness – for the export market - has been promoted in Peru under Law No 27360. Investors in the sector are reaping rewards but workers await a modification of this law to end the exploitation and discrimination of the ever expanding agricultural workforce in Peru.

FENTAGRO is not opposed to investment in, and the development of, their country, but is calling for Decent Work. ‘We need salaries that allow us to improve the wellbeing of our families. We reject the abusive work contracts used by businessmen as a constant threat to prevent us from protesting in the face of abuse and discrimination and against human trafficking, promoted mostly by companies requiring a cheap workforce without fundamental rights. Among such rights are collective bargaining and the exercise of freedom, which are rights that are very difficult to develop.’

According to FENTAGRO, ‘the few unions that exist in our sector have tried, one way or another and with great difficulty, to gain some rights, because we find ourselves in companies that do not accept collective bargaining, that prevent union affiliation and others that do not accept trade unions. To face these difficulties we have a State and Regional Governments that are completely uninterested in labour problems or health and safety in the workplace which are meant to protect the lives of workers. The new Law No 29783, which should protect workers, is not implemented, because the companies do not want to invest in the prevention of occupational accidents and illnesses, as for them it is easier to dismiss the injured and/or ill worker.’

However over the last year FENTAGRO has developed international solidarity links and will continue to strengthen these in their struggle to secure Decent Work and in particular, a revision of Law No 27360.

Lima, December 2013, CEN-FENTAGRO
Photo copywright: FENTAGRO