Civil Society Letter to FLO Regarding Representation of Workers in the Fairtrade system

June 19, 2012

Date: June 19, 2012

From: US Labor Rights Advocates and Fairtrade Stakeholders

TO: All Members and Board Members of Fairtrade International, also known as the Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) 

SUBJECT: Representation of Workers in the Fairtrade system

Dear FLO Members and FLO Board Members,

We are a diverse group of organizations and individuals, which have been following the uptake of the Fairtrade Label in the US and who are also strong advocates of workers’ rights worldwide.  We commend your efforts to revise FLO’s hired labor standards and the overall implementation system that goes with it. 

We are looking forward to seeing the recommendations of the Workers’ Rights Advisory Committee (WRAC) fully and effectively implemented in the field.  While we acknowledge this will take time, we hope that FLO will continue to actively engage with international and national labor unions in this process and endeavour to swiftly, transparently, and effectively address worker grievances as they arise.

We do not believe, however, that the recommendations of the WRAC, or the advances that might be achieved by developing better standards and policies, will have meaning unless the FLO Governance structure is revised to enable workers and their representatives to have an influential and permanent voice within FLO’s governance structures. 

It is essential that workers are represented; such representation should be based around democratic trade union organisations which represent workers, and accompanied by measures to ensure meaningful and active involvement of workers on certified facilities.  We note that in many cases, this will require an investment in capacity building so that workers and their organizations are able to effectively engage in FLO governance discussions.

Before revisions to FLO’s constitution are finalized, we strongly recommend you seek to come to a solution for effective worker representation within that structure that is agreeable with the trade union movement. In order for us to continue engaging FLO, we need some indication that the voices of workers and their representatives will be effectively influential within the FLO governance structure going forward.

We thank you in advance for your consideration.


  • Ethix Merch
  • Food Chain Workers Alliance
  • Global Exchange
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • International Labor Rights Forum – ILRF
  • Milwaukee Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition
  • Organic Consumers Association – OCA
  • United Students for Fair Trade – USFT
  • US Labor Education in the Americas Project – USLEAP
  • Robert J.S. Ross, PH.D., Professor of Sociology, Director, International Studies Stream, Clark University

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