December 14th 2018
Gabby Rosazza, International Labor Rights Forum,
Anna Canning, Fair World Project,
Fyffes Must Bargain with Independent Union in Honduras
Fair Trade USA Revokes Fyffes’ Fair Trade Certificate in Wake of Wage Theft and Rights Violations
Following the publication of an open letter recounting a pattern of labor rights violations on melon farms in Honduras, Fair Trade USA has decertified the grower Suragroh, a subsidiary of Fyffes. The Irish company Fyffes is one of the largest global fruit brands and the top importer of winter-season melons to the U.S. market. Fyffes is owned by the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo.
Honduran agricultural unions, the Fair World Project, and the International Labor Rights Forum call on Fyffes to negotiate with STAS – El Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares. STAS is an independent trade union representing over 800 agricultural workers in the melon, banana, sugarcane, and palm oil industries.
“Over the past three weeks, I’ve met with Fyffes’ melon workers in Honduras,” said Gabby Rosazza of the International Labor Rights Forum. “They told me about the high production quotas and the verbal harassment they face for being a part of the STAS union. They told me that management does not provide gloves and even refuses to let them wear gloves they bring from home. As a result, they have cuts and lesions on their hands.”
Fyffes’ refusal to respect workers’ internationally-recognized right to join a democratically-elected union is a violation of both Honduran law and international labor standards. Due to the labor rights violations and pattern of anti-union violence, Suragroh-Fyffes has been named in the AFL-CIO’s complaint under the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement and a complaint to the International Labour Organization. Fyffes was suspended from the Ethical Trading Initiative in May 2017 for violations in their supply chain in Honduras.
“We will be calling on supermarkets across the U.S. to suspend their business relationships with Fyffes, as some grocery stores in Europe have done already, until management bargains a contract in good faith with STAS,” said Dana Geffner, Executive Director of the Fair World Project.
Fair World Project (FWP) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the use of the term “fair trade” in the marketplace, expand markets for authentic fair trade, educate consumers about key issues in trade and agriculture, advocate for policies leading to a just economy, and facilitate collaborative relationships to create true system change. FWP’s recent report, Fairness for Farmers: A Report Assessing the Fair Trade Movement and the Role of Certification, details the role that fair trade certification and verification programs can play within the larger fair trade movement of ensuring fairness to farmers. FWP also publishes a bi-annual publication, For A Better World. For further information, visit: http://www.fairworldproject.org.
International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is dedicated to advancing dignity and justice for workers in the global economy and works with trade unions, faith-based organizations, and community groups to support workers and their families. ILRF works for a world where workers have the power to speak out and organize to defend and advance their rights and interests; a world where workers have the right to form unions and bargain collectively to secure a safe and dignified life for themselves and their families; and a world where everyone is free from discrimination, forced labor and child labor. For further information, visit: https://laborrights.org.