Following years of engaging and advocating for decent salaries, Fairtrade reported recently on welcome progress for workers in the banana sector.
Colombia and Ecuador leading the way
In Ecuador, the salario digno (decent wage) has been established by the government to ensure a just remuneration for workers and reduce poverty. All plantation workers, including those with the lowest salaries, receive at least the salario digno - a decent wage of US$444.62 per month, which is higher than the country’s minimum wage. Preliminary data shows that, on Fairtrade certified plantations, the lowest paid employee receives US$570, plus an average premium of US$31 to contribute toward collective projects.
In the case of Colombia, strong collaboration between trade unions and plantation owners has played an important role in reaching collective bargaining agreements to increase salaries. In September 2019, SINTRAINAGRO, the Colombia’s banana workers’ union, and AUGURA, the employers’ association, which represents the majority of bananas grown for export in Colombia, signed a new agreement to increase salaries by a further 5.5 percent. This increase also comes on top of a negotiated wage rate that exceeds the current minimum wage in the country.
Banana Link International Coordinator, Alistair Smith, welcomed these developments, saying: "Fairtrade is an important part of this effort to implement living wages across the global banana industry led by the World Banana Forum. As Fairtrade recognises, it is the role of collective bargaining between trade unions and companies that is central to achieving living wages; and, as Ecuador has shown, governments can also play a very progressive role."