Banana Link is an organisation that works for fair and equitable production and trade in bananas and pineapples based on environmental, social and economic sustainability.
In a letter to Banana Link -dating 23rd April- Costa Rican banana industry body Corporacion Bananera Nacional (CORBANA) complained that its overview of measures taken as a result of COVID-19 across plantations in Latin America was inaccurate and deliberately misrepresented the industry.
Banana Link has refuted this allegation. It claims its overview stated clearly that the information on the lack of implementation of Costa Rican Ministry of Health protocols on plantations, was reported to them in good faith by independent trade unions working in the banana and pineapple exporting sector. Therefore, the organisation had no reason to believe that it was inaccurate at that time.
Banana Link understands that the Costa Rican government did not require the industry introduce measures beyond ensuring that there were sufficient hand-washing facilities on plantations and in packhouses, and to ensure that transport to work was reviewed. Although the Health Ministry did not issue instructions that would have led to the need for agribusiness companies to make significant investments, many have put additional measures in place. These include perspex screens to separate workers in packhouses, ensuring that all workers do not eat in large groups, and have laid on more transport to and from work to try and implement some level of physical distancing.
However, one trade union leader has commented that companies have taken advantage of the crisis to make life even more difficult for them as organisations – ” Meetings (to resolve grievances) have been suspended between management and workers, leaving workers undefended”, while “some companies have even said they can no longer deal with issues by email or only on Mondays!” Adding that “there have been cases of sackings, even a case of sexual harassment, where the company says it cannot deal with the problem because of COVID-19.”