Orchard workers in Brazil work in critical conditions

Fruit juice products on the shelves at Edeka, Rewe, Lidl and Aldi are often produced by Brazilian workers in critical conditions, as is apparent from recently published research of the German trade union Verdi and the association CIR (Christlich Initiative Romero - Christian Initiative Romero). "In the entire production and delivery chain work is done under extreme pressure and without adequate safety measures," Sandra Dusch of CIR says. Exploitation and starvation wages are the order of the day in the orchards and in the juice factories.

Germany uses most fruit juices out of all countries in the world and is the largest buyer of orange juice from Brazil. Harvest assistants are badly paid, according to the organizations and pick fruit whilst wearing insufficiently protected clothing against chemicals, poisonous spiders and snakes, as mentioned in the research. In addition the widespread presence of plant protection cause creeping developing illnesses in the orchard. It is unclear how many people are actually injured, as nobody dares to speak up, according to the research. CIR and Verdi documented an incident in which eight employees left the hospital again after being poisoned when the employer had spoken to them.

Most of the employees only receive seasonal contracts. In the region of Sao Paulo only around one fifth of the workforce has a permanent appointment. In the factories, which produce juice concentrate, the employees work under "'extreme' circumstances". It is very noisy and hot. Women do not usually get fixed appointments or are dismissed when pregnant.

CIR and the labour organizations want to put pressure on the German trade giants with the research. Edeka, Rewe, Lidl/Kaufland and Aldi combined have a market share of 85% - and consequently indirectly decide the employment conditions of millions of workers in Brazil.

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