Annual Review 2019-20
FOR ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY IN THE BANANA TRADE
Securing Decent Work
Supporting trade unions in Latin America
Banana Link continues to support capacity building and training activities of banana workers trade unions in Latin America, facilitated mainly through our Latin American Coordinator, based in Ecuador, and who is also acting as the Coordinator of the the Coordinating Body of Latin American Banana and Agro-industrial Unions (COLSIBA) from 2019 to 2021.
With funding from Unison we have supported capacity building and training for SITRAP, which has seen its membership continue to grow at a rate of around one new member par day, while they have been able to secure new Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) at two Del Monte plantations. Funding has also enabled online communications training for union representatives and provisions of masks to members in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The union has been particularly successful in recruiting women members this year, because the Women's Officer and the Executive Committee have made this a top priority by providing services that are highly relevant to women in their workplaces, childcare during all meetings, and by encouraging family members of worker members to participate in union events.
Banana Link has played a leading role, along with the NGO Centro de Integracion y Accion Cultural (CIAC) and trade union SIUTRAPBAM, in the work of the Fairtrade International Workers Rights Advisory Committee (WRAC) in working to secure the regularisation of migrant workers and their access to social security through a National Dialogue Forum, that brings together most of the producer organisations, the union movement and other social organisations to design strategies to put to the new government that came to power in 2020. Banana Link works as a member of WRAC to ensure liaison with the parties to the Dialogue Forum and UK buyers.
With funding from GiZ, we have supported capacity building and training workshops on labour issues, gender equity, health & safety, measures to prevent the spread of the TR4 fungal disease, Covid-19 and collective bargaining for the new independent union SINUTRABE. In 2020, we also helped secure a humanitarian programme of distribution of food and Covid protection kits to over 1500 of the poorest households in three banana exporting communities in the three provinces of the coastal plain where the virus had hit people and their jobs particularly hard.
With support from TUC Aid, we continued to support our partner SITRABI to organise education and training for plantation workers in several districts of the Pacific South, the source of one in every three bananas consumed in North America. This work is also supported by the US trade union confederation AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center. We are planning advocacy and consumer awareness work with our US NGO partner ILRF-Global Labor Justice, with whom we collaborated iduring the campaign over rights violations on Fyffes' melon operations in Honduras.
Banana Link contributed directly to successful efforts to consolidate the banana industry dialogue forum established in 2016 after several years of disruptive conflicts. The framework agreement lays out formal procedures for conflict resolution, social dialogue and collective bargaining. The aim is secure mature labour relations between the small farmers' associations and the workers they employ who are members of our partner union SITAG-Peru. We continue to work with COLSIBA and Fairtrade International to ensure that the consolidation of this work and the dissemination of the model it provides for the wider industry through the WBF.
Following reports of ongoing violations of the right to freedom of association on Fyffes’ plantations in Costa Rica and Honduras, Banana Link has been in dialogue with the company, who are now seeking to resolve issues with the independent trade unions in the two countries. This includes negotiating a CBA with STAS in Honduras and establishing a national good faith dialogue process with the independent trade unions in Costa Rica.
Additionally, they are planning to roll out training on freedom of association for managers across their global supply chains and undertaking an independent review of occupational health, safety and environment measures across the company's operations, with a clear gender dimension to this review.
We have supported national trade union organisations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and Honduras in their dialogue and negotiations with Chiquita, in an effort to maintain the worker protections of the regional framework agreement signed between Chiquita-UITA-COLSIBA in 2001.
Banana Occupational Health & Safety Initiative (BOHESI)
Conceptualized in 2014, BOHESI is a train-the-trainer model to support improvements in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in the banana sector. BOHESI has been developed in partnership with Solidaridad, Banana Link and the WBF, and was initially launched in Ecuador in 2016, the largest global exporter of bananas. 2019-20 has now seen the initiative extended to:
The BOHESI training manual was launched in Ghana in February with the support of the Ghanaian Ministry of Labour, the Banana Producers Association and national trade unions, Fairtrade Africa and the WBF, and a series of three train-the-trainer sessions were conducted with company and worker representatives to support the adoption and implementation of the manual within the sector.
In addition to producing the BOHESI training manual, Banana Link has also produced Guidelines on healthy and safe employment of women in the Ghanaian banana industry, also launched in February. Gender focused training activities using the guidelines have taken place with male and female representatives from the three banana exporting companies, facilitated by a team of gender and OHS experts from Golden Exotics Limited, Banana Link and International Union of Foodworkers (IUF).
The BOHESI training manual and the gender guidelines have been produced in both English and French for use in Cameroon, and an initial train-the-trainer sessions were held in March 2020 at PHP, a subsidiary of Compagnie Fruitiere, for participants from PHP, PHP trade union platform, FAWU, CDC and BoH. The three companies represent the entire Cameroonian banana industry. Further training has however been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Towards a united voice for banana workers in Africa
Banana Link and the IUF co-authored a report published by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) which examined the situation of workers employed in banana export production in Africa, and why a united voice is necessary to address the challenges faced on plantations.
The impact of Covid-19
Banana export production has continued during the pandemic and supplies to and fruit European supermarkets have been maintained. Through our Latin American Coordinator, we have supported trade unions across the region in seeking the implementation of measures to protect the health and incomes of workers and to strengthen covid-19 preventive measures in the workplace. This has included the coordination of a Covid safety video, targeting plantation workers through social media, and adapted to each country. The video below is the version of the video released in Ecuador: https://vimeo.com/419950765
Industry wide webinars
Banana Link has coordinated a series of webinars in 2020 for members of the WBF and wider industry stakeholders on gender issues in the sector, namely: Healthy and safe employment of women workers; Sexual harassment and gender-based violence, the gender pay gap; and the Impacts on women workers of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Healthy and safe employment of women in the banana industry
To complement the Banana Occupational Health & Safety Initiative (BOHESI) training manuals (see above), Banana Link has developed a set of Guidelines on healthy and safe employment of women in the Ghanaian banana industry, which are forming the basis of training on gendered aspects of occupational health and safety, as part of the wider BOHESI training programme in Cameroon, Ecuador and Ghana.
Comparative analysis of progress towards gender equity
Our previous research work on Comparative analysis of progress towards gender equity has contributed to Tesco’s global gender strategy, which is an action driven document that would pilot work to address priority issues, including sexual harassment in the workplace, in a number of sectors, including banana production in West Africa. A further set of case studies on initiatives to promote gender equity in global supply chains is currently underway.
Improving and increasing women’s employment
Monitoring the impact of our project, initiated in 2018, to improve and increase women’s employment at Golden Exotics Limited’s Fairtrade banana plantation in Ghana has demonstrated positive progress, including the introduction of education about a company sexual harassment policy.
Promoting responsible production
International Alliance for the Sustainability of Family Farming
Banana Link is playing a coordinating role in the establishment of an alliance of small family farming organisations, trade unions and civil society organisations to work towards the expansion of agroecological farming, with sustainable and fair farm-to-market programmes, which respects the rights of farmers, workers, and trade unions across Latin America, the Caribbean and the Philippines.
Rethinking Value Chains
Banana Link continues to play a coordinating role in the the Rethinking Value Chains Collective - an alliance of civil society organisations, academics and trade unions working towards the creation of a global economic and political system where workers, small farmers and communities have access to the social, economic and environmental resources they require for a decent standard of living, whilst preserving and regenerating natural ecosystems.
A conference of the Collective took place in France in February 2020 with over 45 participants – the main outcome being the development of a ‘manifesto’ to represent the shared vision of members. Webinars on the Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on small farmers and workers in global value chains (textiles, food and electronics supply chains) and advances towards observatories on sustainable costs and value distribution in the banana, coffee and cocoa sectors, have followed the conference.
The Rethinking Value Chains website was also launched in 2020 - https://www.rethinkingvaluechains.com/ along with the video opposite: https://vimeo.com/436832284
Influencing industry actors
Banana Link plays an leading role within the World Banana Forum (WBF), which brings together the main stakeholders of the global banana supply-chain to work together to achieve consensus on best practices for sustainable production and trade. We are active in all three of the WBF Working Groups: Sustainable Production Systems and Environmental Impact; Distribution of Value; and Labour Rights, as well as the Gender Equity Task Force. Banana Link also participated in a set of WBF thematic panel discussions at the annual Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin in January.
Alongside our active engagement in the WBF, Banana Link continues to drive forward dialogue with a number of key retailers with tangible changes to sourcing practices being discussed and made. This has included ongoing efforts to encourage UK retailers to source more of their bananas from small-scale producers and also to pay prices that cover the Costs of Sustainable Production.
We have also contributed toward the establishment of a Cost of Production Observatory proposed by Bureau for the Appraisal of Social Impacts for Citizen information (BASIC) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD).
In our efforts to raise awareness of the social and environmental consequences of banana production, we launched our new website at the end 2019 - https://www.bananalink.org.uk/ - while our regular Banana Trade blog continues to contribute to debate within the industry.
We are committed to contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, primarily:
The vast majority of our work is delivered through partner organisations, whom we enable to achieve scalable and sustainable impact.
In 2019/20 we are proud to have made an impact on the lives of workers and small-scale farmers around the world as illustrated in this Annual Review.
We aim to achieve tangible changes in the lives of people working in banana and pineapple chains that incorporate:
Fair and ethical trade practices which are based on a fair living wage, equitable distribution of value along the chain, and competitive market access for small producers
Dignity for workers and respect for labour and trade union rights
Sustainable production systems which reduce dependence on hazardous substances and minimise adverse health and environmental impacts on natural resources, workers and communities
Constructive dialogue between all economic and non-economic stakeholders that accelerates a transition to fair, equitable and sustainable banana and pineapple chains worldwide.
We aim to achieve our objectives 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 (WBF);
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.
Banana Link is a small civil society organisation based in Norwich that advocates for fair and equitable production and trade in bananas and pineapples based on environmental, social and economic sustainability.
Our small team of six part-time staff work in partnership with plantation worker trade unions and small-scale farmer organisations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Central and West Africa and The Philippines to achieve sustainable production and trade in banana and other agricultural industries.
| Annual Review 2019-20
| Annual Review 2018-19
Working towards a fair and sustainable banana and pineapple trade
49 Colegate, Norwich NR3 1DD, United Kingdom
All photos © Banana Link, except:
Pages 1, 2, 5, © James Robinson
Page 3 © SITRAP, Pages 4, 6 © Sintrainagro
Our expenditure 2019-20
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.
Securing Decent Work
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:
Rethinking Value Chains