Northern Costa Rica: Working conditions and environmental situation on pineapple plantations

Participants in the Socio-Environmental Kiosk Programme have been working in various communities of northern Costa Rica. By means of social action and investigation they have been looking into the world of paid work on pineapple plantations. Work has been carried out with community and union organisations, such as the Private Sector Workers' Union (SITRASEP) in Santa Fe de los Chiles.

Throughout 2018, this branch of the union constantly denounced working conditions and eventually went on strike, causing financial losses for the company Exportaciones Norteñas. Although the agreements reached as a result of the strike were favourable for the union (it demanded that basic standards be respected), according to bananalink.org.uk, so far the company has not kept its word.

Apparently, the strike set an important precedent: already this year three more strikes have broken out on other plantations in the northern region. Men and women workers of the companies Bella Vista S.A. and B & Jiménez S.A, in Los Chiles canton, and Valle del Tarso S.A in Upala canton have walked out in protest. The Bella Vista branch of SITRASEP continue striking not only in response to precarious work conditions, but also as a protest against the persecution union members have been subjected to; some of whom have been unfairly dismissed and have not received their end of year bonus for last year. The other two strikes ended with satisfactory agreements for the men and women workers.

The union organisations seek to expose and challenge the hidden realities of agroindustry, claiming men and women workers are marginalised and therefore vulnerable. Their marginal status means they are practically invisible as part of the social structure and excluded from discourse on development. The majority of workers in the Costa Rican pineapple industry are poor migrants and they generally have a darker complexion. Although the exploitation they are subjected to is their only means of survival, they are capable of standing up against injustice.


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