Some Relief for Farmworkers in Mexico; Corporations Still Not Held Accountable

Thousands of farmworkers in San Quintin, Mexico went on strike in March.  The US imports nearly $7 billion worth of fresh fruits and vegetables annually from Mexico, much of if from the San Quintin region, on the Baja Peninsula. In the early weeks of the strike, roads were blocked and millions of dollars and produce lost.

In recent weeks, the situation has again escalated, with dozen injured in a violent class with police last week.

Farmworkers have been demanding better conditions as well as the equivalent of $13/day.  In a breakthrough late last week, the Mexican government agreed to subsidize the wages of farmworkers to reach this rate.  The deal will be formalized June 4th.

Although this is good news for farmworkers, it leaves much unresolved. As Food Chain Workers Alliance asked when they reported the latest news, “Why can’t the growers pay the workers? How can $13 per day be too much for these agribusinesses?”

As part of the deal, the government also guarantees social security benefits, including pensions and healthcare. It does not, however, guarantee a safer working and living environment and farmworkers report health risks like exposure to pesticide drift even when they are not in the fields.

This new deal should bring some relief to farmworkers and families in the San Quintin area, but true transformation will not come without holding corporations responsible for their role in keeping wages low and working conditions poor.

Posted on May 19th 2015

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