Annual Review 2018-19
ENGAGING, EDUCATING AND ADVOCATING FOR A FAIRER BANANA TRADE
We are committed to contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, primarily:
Banana Link continues to play a key monitoring and evaluation role in Improving and increasing women’s employment at Golden Exotics Limited (GEL) in Ghana. In October we filmed a wide range of stakeholders describing project impact. In little over a year women’s employment at the company has increased from 7% to 11%, supported by a management team deeply committed to achieving gender equity and raising awareness amongst supervisors to also support this goal.
40% of all employment opportunities in organic production are now targeted at women as a result of tackling the gendered segregation of tasks in the industry. A wide range of new roles are now open to women in the field and, as a result of workplace adaptation, in the packhouse too.
Banana Link has also facilitated leadership training for women to help increase their representation in decision making and supervisory positions. Project partners, the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) and Compagnie Fruitière (GEL parent company) believe that our work at GEL, and more broadly in Ghana, will provide learning and practice that can be replicated and scaled up in banana and other sectors.
Gender equity was a key theme of the recent visit to Ghana during which current in-country project work was presented to 40+ union representatives by the coordinating partners (IDH, IUF, Fairtrade International, Fairtrade Africa, UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation & Banana Link) as part of strategy to achieve the provision of Decent Work in banana export production as outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 8. Workshop participants identified how trade unions work to improve wages, provide a safe and healthy workplace and end the discrimination of women through education, negotiation and advocacy. Partners outlined projects that can inform and support such activity. Collective bargaining was acknowledged as the only way to ensure that subsequent change is secured and sustained.
Banana Link led the Comparative analysis of progress towards gender equity in bananas, tea and flowers, a year long project funded by the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Innovations Fund and developed in response to a recommendation at a World Banana Forum (WBF) Gender Equity meeting for our sector to learn from other industries. Partners included the IUF, Women Working Worldwide, Fairtrade Foundation, Tesco and Sainsbury's.
The project generated more than 30 case studies of good practice across agriculture, including 7 in depth studies informed by field work and three films. A tripartite steering committee identified three key drivers, and their influencing factors; education, representation and an enabling environment. Learning has been presented at a range of events in Europe and Africa, promoted online by the Ethical Trading Initiative and is informing company behaviour, most notably the development of Tesco's global gender strategy.
We continue to play a central role in the Gender Equity Task Force of the WBF, in particular pushing for greater industry awareness and dialogue on the key issues of sexual harassment and gender based violence, women's employment and empowerment, the pay gap between men and women workers and the specific health and safety issues for women working in the banana industry.
The Task Force now brings together over 15 women leaders from civil society organisations, producing companies, retailers, certification bodies and government institutions in regular calls and physical meetings on gender equity.
8.5.1 Average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities;
8.8.1 Frequency rates of fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries, by sex and migrant status; and
8.8.2 Level of national compliance with labour rights (freedom of association and collective bargaining) based on International Labour Organization (ILO) textual sources and national legislation, by sex and migrant status.
The vast majority of our work is delivered through partner organisations, whom we enable to achieve scalable and sustainable impact.
In 2018/9 we are proud to have made an impact on the lives of workers and farmers around the world as illustrated in this Annual Review.
12.4.1 Number of parties to international multilateral environmental agreements on hazardous waste, and other chemicals that meet their commitments and obligations in transmitting information as required by each relevant agreement;
12.6.1 Number of companies publishing sustainability reports;
12.8.1 Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development (including climate change education) are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment; and
12.a.1 Amount of support to developing countries on research and development for sustainable consumption and production and environmentally sound technologies.
5.4.1 Proportion of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work, by sex, age and location;
5.5.2 Proportion of women in managerial positions; and
5.6.1 Proportion of women aged 15–49 years who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care.
A small UK based cooperative, Banana Link works in partnership with plantation worker trade unions and small-scale farmer organisations to achieve sustainable production and trade in banana and other agricultural industries.
We do this through:
Engaging in bilateral dialogue and cooperation with all industry actors who share our values and playing a leading role in multi-stakeholder fora, including the World Banana Forum;
Educating actors throughout relevant value chains including the active monitoring, evaluation, promotion and sharing of good practice; and
Advocating for the development and enforcement of effective legislation which ensures the respect of labour, social and environmental rights.
| Annual Review 2018-19
Women comprise less than one fifth of the global workforce in the banana export industry
"This feels good, really, really good, because I believe the union movement on plantations has taken off."
Didier Leitón General Secretary SITRAP
We supported our partner, SITRAP (Union of Agricultural Plantation Workers), who in January 2019 signed the first Collective Bargaining Agreement in the Costa Rican tropical fruit industry for over 30 years. The agreement includes regular dialogue between workers and management to address grievances and to present new ideas.
Banana Link also secured funding from two of the largest trade unions in the UK, UNISON and the GMB, to enable SITRAP to build their capacity to educate thousands of workers on more than 40 plantations about their rights and the value of union membership.
This achieved immediate impact through SITRAP’s successful bargaining at two Del Monte plantations which ensured worker representatives on plantations have the time and facilities to meet freely and present grievances and ideas to management through regular dialogue. SITRAP also won the legal reinstatement of a number of unfairly dismissed workers.
Banana Link supporters donated funds for more than 200 union members and their families to join the SITRAP Annual General Meeting - and celebrate their successes - in January, reported in the video below.
With support from Banana Link and the GMB, our Peruvian partners SITAG (Union of Plantation Workers), have secured the reinstatement of five workers who were wrongly dismissed. SITAG continue to advocate for labour law reform and have coordinated and documented a historic framework agreement on trade union rights with seven banana producers’ associations as an example of good practice to share broadly within the industry.
In Guatemala, Banana Link secured funding from TUC Aid to enable SITRABI (Izabal Banana Workers’ Union) to train 50 workers to form a new union in the South of the country, where trade union repression is violent and entrenched. SITRABI and one of the largest regional producers, AgroAmerica, have since begun negotiating a framework agreement on worker’s rights and sustainability in their farms. This would be only the second such agreement in the banana sector.
Banana Link continues to play a key role in the IUF Network of Banana Worker Unions, participating in the fifth annual meeting in Cote d’Ivoire to support unions across the region to develop a strategy for securing living wages.
Through our coordination of the international Rethinking Value Chains network we help to bring together civil society actors working in industries/sectors who are at the fore-front of new strategies and initiatives to transform value chains, with a focus on rights for people and rules for business. Case studies of conditions and regulatory frameworks in the smartphone, copper and shoe sectors have been published and have helped to identify regulatory pressure points to improve advocacy and lobbying strategies. A detailed study, Coffee: behind the success story, similarly informed civil society collaboration on ways to improve conditions, from an eco-tax on aluminium coffee capsules to a permanent observatory to monitor costs of production.
As the secretariat of the Global Banana & Other Agroindustrial Product Action Network (EUROBAN) we provide a vital opportunity to bring our southern partners from four banana exporting continents together to engage with civil society actors from consumer countries. Through EUROBAN we coordinate dialogue with the Rainforest Alliance and local unions in Latin America to build the capacity of auditors to identify union rights violations and of the certifier to work with plantations to mitigate these. We also continue the awareness raising and advocacy work of the Europe-wide Make Fruit Fair! campaign, in which Banana Link played a key role, including celebrating agreement of new European rules that ban abusive trading practices by supermarkets following campaign pressure on the European Union to take action to ensure supermarkets treat their suppliers fairly.
Following campaign calls to ‘Play Fair’, Lidl announced 100% conversion to Fairtrade bananas in four countries this spring. Furthermore, following a Banana Link complaint to the Ethical Trading Initiative, global fruit trader and producer, Fyffes, had their membership of this body terminated in March following their failure to adequately address rights violations in Honduras. We continue to engage in dialogue with the highest-level decision makers at Fyffes to ensure respect for union freedom to enable bargaining for better wages and conditions amongst thousands of poorly paid, primarily women workers. We are encouraging retailers buying from Fyffes to put pressure on the company to change and work with civil society in the US and Europe to campaign publicly for Freedom & Fairness for Fyffes workers.
Morrisons has redesigned their banana supply chain and are now directly sourcing 50% of their conventional bananas from growers in Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador. Informed by our recommendations, Morrisons supermarket is ensuring that each of their growers improve their social responsibility and environmental sustainability. The supermarket recently committed to sourcing their first ever bananas from small scale producers Asoproliflo in Ecuador.
Producers' associations from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala have all expressed anger about Aldi cutting their already unsustainable banana price. A letter from the Ecuadorian banana industry, signed by 31 organisations, condemned the retailer’s plans; Oxfam and Banana Link campaigned together to call on Aldi to rethink driving prices, and therefore working conditions in the industry, ever lower.
A visit to the Dominican Republic to engage with unions, companies and government in efforts to support social dialogue towards a programme on Decent Work, to be supported by the (International Labour Organisation (ILO) and WBF. The long-term aim is to establish collective bargaining for the national banana sector where wages are pitifully low and there is still a challenge to regularise a largely migrant workforce from Haiti.
We engage in dialogue with the majority of UK based retailers and key global traders and retailers, including AgroAmerica and Dole, to inform ethical sourcing including collaborative work to address rights violations at specific sites. Norwegian fruit trade and importer, Bama, supports our Latin American social dialogue coordination work enabling our Latin American Coordinator to represent us in the region and support grassroots capacity building of local union and small-scale cooperatives.
We are active and respected members of the Ethical Trading Initiative playing a key role in the Edible Horticulture from Latin America programme which aims to identify and implement collaborative action plans which address poor working conditions and improve the lives of vulnerable workers and on the newly established Freedom of Association Advisory Group.
Banana Link published English and French versions of the first ever banana specific health and safety manual in Cameroon, as part of the Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative, (BOHESI) with plans for this to be used in the training of trainers and workplace education for more than 7000 male and female workers and company staff later this year.
We launched the BOHESI programme in Ghana in partnership with the national industry body with plans to adapt the manual, including creating new guidance on gender in occupational health and safety, and pilot it in training for trainers and education for more than 4000 workers. The Ministry of Employment has drafted the first ever occupational health and safety bill and a recent field visit provided an opportunity to feed comments into this legislative process, as well as to secure commitment from three separate government departments in reviewing the manual and being engaged in project activity.
We see the threat which the new variety of Panama disease, TR4, poses to a global banana trade dominated by agrochemical dependent monocultural production, as an opportunity to promote alternative sustainable methods of production in the industry. This year, Banana Link made a film (below) about the ago-ecological commitment of Compagnie Fruitiere, the largest producers and exporters of bananas in Africa, to both celebrate their progress and to share learning with other companies, including on their expansion of organic production in Ghana.
We facilitated a collaboration between global retailer Carrefour and research institute, CIRAD, on technical support for developing agro-ecological production systems throughout the retailer’s supply chains. This has led to the signing of a long-term cooperation agreement between the two parties.
As partners in the University of Exeter led BananEx project, and in response to interest from UK based traders and retailers, we have drafted a proposal for a UK Banana Platform to link future research on banana disease and new varieties in efforts to promote industry-wide sustainability.
A South-South learning exchange visit in early 2020 between small-scale farmers in the Caribbean and Philippines will create online educational materials and videos for use at farm level demonstrating practical, viable alternatives to monoculture. This is to be the first exchange of an ongoing South-South programme which can benefit not only our grassroots partners but larger corporate players too.
Banana Link is a founder member of the World Banana Forum (WBF) and is represented on its Executive Board and Steering Committee, providing invaluable opportunities for collaboration, capacity building and sharing of knowledge and which can bring about real change for those on the ground. We have successfully supported small-scale farmers and plantation workers and their unions - those with the least power in the banana value chain, to put their agenda at the heart of the work of the WBF.
Banana Link aims to ensure all major British and EU retailers are also active in the WBF, including through bilateral dialogue with the most powerful decision makers in the supply chain. Banana Link are key members of the Working Groups on Sustainable Production Systems and Environmental Impact, Distribution of Value and Labour Rights, and Gender Equality.
Banana Link co-facilitated a meeting in Montreal, which saw a major step forward in work on Living Wages across the industry. All the key players present agreed to a global synchronised effort to complete living wage benchmarking in all the major exporting countries as a basis to start addressing gaps between current and living wages from 2019/2020.
Following the meeting, all major Dutch retailers committed to living wage implementation across all their fresh produce chains by 2025. This agreement will be vital to ensuring that no one company or country feels isolated in its efforts and therefore subject to unfair competitive pressures. Coupled with the proposal to make all costs of production and distribution transparent, the path has been laid for the banana industry to become a pioneer in the payment of living wages, ‘internalising’ the costs that are not currently reflected in prices along the chain.
"To grow organic is to think different. About the workers, about the social aspects also. To work with the communities. Also, to work with the customer."
Johan Glo, Director of Operations, Golden Exotics Limited
Raising awareness of the factors which influence the gender pay gap and working in partnership with industry actors to better understand and reduce this gap;
Ameliorating the negative impacts of unequal power relations on plantations, such as discriminatory hiring and employment practices, sexual harassment and workplace violence;
Promoting better health and safety practices and education for women and men workers, supervisors and trade union representatives on plantations using the Banana Occupational Health and Safety Manual.
Supporting efforts to organise and build the capacity for women and men plantation workers and their trade unions to secure their labour rights and living wages through collective bargaining;
Encouraging company commitment to social dialogue and collective bargaining with independent trade unions, including through Framework Agreements;
Working in solidarity with, and promoting solidarity between, local trade unions at plantation level, regional coordinating bodies of plantation worker unions, their Global Union Federation (the International Union of Food workers) and also trade unions organising in consumer countries.
Encouraging certifiers to rigorously implement robust standards to ensure the freedom to bargain collectively.
Engaging with selected producer governments to promote sustainable production, a fair distribution of value, labour law enforcement and the payment of prices which cover Costs of Sustainable Production (COSP);
Pressuring retailers to pay prices that cover the COSP and encouraging sourcing from small-scale producers on fair terms;
Drawing on the experiences of our small-scale producer partners who are pioneering alternative production methods, enabling South-South exchanges of learning and experience to promote agro-ecological production methods which reduce or eliminate pesticide use, and capitalising on growing industry acceptance that monoculture production is no longer sustainable;
Encouraging retailers to source and market bananas from producers that employ agroecological, non-monoculture production systems, particularly from small-scale producers;
Coordinating the Rethinking Value Chains network to facilitate the exchange of strategies between civil society actors working in different economic sectors with expertise on value chain issues and the empowerment of workers and local communities in the face of global corporate economic interests;
Encouraging teaching in universities and business schools that promotes responsibility in global value chains, and the coordination of academic and civil society research into value chain regulation through the Responsible Global Value Chains (RGVC) network and web platform.
"The World Banana Forum is important because it brings together multi-stakeholders, from small producers all the way to the company and the market."
Kahlil Apuzen-Ito FARMCOOP Philippines
Working towards a fair and sustainable banana and pineapple trade
42-58 St George's Street
Norwich NR3 1AB
Phone: +44 (0)1603 765670
All photos © Banana Link, except:
Pages 1, 3, 4, 6 ,12 © James Robinson
Page 5 © SITRAP, Page 7 © REL-UITA
Our expenditure 2018-19
Securing Decent Work
Dr Richard Solomons' Charitable Trust
14% Southern partner capacity building and project delivery
Please contact us for a detailed breakdown of income and expenditure for this period and a copy of our independently examined accounts.
Key funders in this period include: