Three commissions were held in the Colombian city of Medellin during June and July 2023, resulting in the
signing of a four-year collective agreement for banana plantation workers, covering economic,
labour-related and regulatory aspects. This is the first time in the history of over three decades of
collective bargaining that an agreement covers such a long period.
Colombian banana workers in the region of Urabá, represented by SINTRAINAGRO, negotiated with
producers association Augura. They secured a 14% salary increase in the first year of the
agreement. This represents their highest wage increase in the last twenty three years. Together with the
salary increase negotiated in 2022 – which was 11%,- it means that twenty thousand Colombian
banana workers covered by the agreement will enjoy a 25% salary increase over a two year period.
Bonuses and other benefits, housing and education funds will increase by the same proportion.
The agreement also covers detailed arrangements around daily and seasonal tasks at the
plantation, from biosecurity measures, fumigation and the application of fertiliser, to how often
the cables that carry banana clusters from the field to the pack-house are to be oiled, and the
improvement of several tasks that had typically been very poorly paid. In terms of occupational
health and safety, the agreement ensures that each worker will be supplied with a four litre
thermos flask to ensure adequate hydration, along with a full set of waterproof clothing.
SINTRAINAGRO has long been an advocate of women’s inclusion in the workforce – and this
agreement carries on that legacy by stipulating that at least two more women are hired on each
farm, driving up the proportion of women occupying roles in the Colombian banana industry – an
industry that has typically been hugely dominated by male workers. In addition, measures to
ensure that age and gender-based discrimination is mitigated, through the dissemination of
training for young people and women, is included in the agreement.
SINTRAINAGRO has been praised by employers for their mature and capable approach to collective
bargaining, and Colombia remains a model for labour relations within the banana industry. The
following joint statement was prepared by cosignatories of the agreement:
In consideration of the fact that the model of labour relations, built over more than three decades between banana employers in the region of Urabá and the National Union of Agro-industry Workers, Sintrainagro – historically the largest trade union organisation in the Urabá banana sector – has earned national and international recognition as one of the most outstanding cases of improvement of labour relations and conditions in Colombia (ILO). This is due to the respect for the free exercise of the rights of association, political affiliation, expression, assembly, collective bargaining and strike of all workers, exercised in accordance with the constitution, the law and this convention; social dialogue, the sectoral coverage of the agreements, the majority of the beneficiary unionised population, the significant advances in the levels of remuneration and the extra-legal benefits of direct and indirect payment, the improvement of the social indicators in Urabá, the respect for human rights, the environment, among others, together with the coverage of the social protection system, the benefits, social benefits and paid breaks foreseen in the national legislation, the parties declare their mutual understanding that the set of conventional and legal benefits satisfy the standards of decent work and living wage or income and express their commitment to continue advancing so that in insular cases these standards are reached.