Fairtrade takes big steps towards living wages for banana workers

Fairtrade has announced a new base wage for all Fairtrade certified banana plantations. The revised standard marks a unique move towards a living wage, benefitting thousands of workers.

This will make a real difference to the New Zealand market where up to 8% of all bananas sold are Fairtrade bananas. Brand partners; All Good, Pure Fresh and Banabay, source their bananas from Ecuador and Mexico where the new Fairtrade Base Wage will be paid from 1 July 2021 onwards.

Every Fairtrade banana plantation worker will get at least the base wage, even if the legal minimum wage is lower. And if they already receive more, their wages can’t be lowered.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the insecurity and vulnerability of millions of agricultural workers worldwide, including those working on Fairtrade certified banana plantations. The new Fairtrade Base Wage means higher wages for thousands of banana workers on Fairtrade certified plantations, and a safety net to help them meet their essential needs.

As well as the Fairtrade Base wage, the revised standard stipulates that up to 30% of the Fairtrade Premium must be paid out as a cash bonus, as a temporary measure to support worker’s incomes and help bridge the gap to a living wage where needed. This is on top of the existing 20% which workers can receive in cash if they choose so. 

“These changes are a significant step towards living wages for Fairtrade banana workers worldwide,” said Wilbert Flinterman, Fairtrade International’s Senior Advisor for Workers’ Rights & Trade Union Relations. “While in some countries, many banana workers are already earning living wages, in many others there is still a way to go. Now all workers on Fairtrade certified banana plantations will receive a guaranteed base wage and additional income support through the Premium until they reach a negotiated living wage.

“Fairtrade strongly believes that collective bargaining is the most sustainable and empowering approach to reaching a living wage, both for workers and their employers in the long term. Therefore, we will continue to work with our partners to strengthen labour relations and support workers to know their rights.”

“For Fairtrade it is essential that living wages are recognized as a human right and a normal cost of doing business,” Flinterman added. “Fairtrade urges retailers and traders to commit to fair prices, to ensure consistency between their sustainability pledges and sourcing practices, and to stop a race to the bottom in the banana industry. At the same time, we applaud those companies that have been doing the right thing.”

Fairtrade bananas can be found in a wide range of New Zealand stores including Countdown (Progressive), Foodstuffs, New World and Pak’n’Save supermarkets as well as specialty grocers & organic stores.

For more information:
Virginia Jones
Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand
Tel: +61 0439 430 033
Email virginia@fairtrade.com.au 

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