‘Here, Fairtrade is about empowering workers and empowering women too. They are able to come to me and tell me the difficulties they face at work. Through this, the company is able to get information about what might need changing and then problems become easier to solve.’
— Juliet Arku-Mensah, Fairtrade Officer and Occupational Health and Safety Officer at Volta River Estates Ltd banana plantation, Ghana
Workers’ rights are a priority for Juliet, as they have been for Fairtrade.
And so in 2015, we worked on establishing living wage benchmarks in the banana sector, and a training programme for banana workers in Ghana on collective bargaining so that they can negotiate their wages. We also supported thousands of migrant banana workers in the Dominican Republic to register for work permits and gain legal status. They previously struggled to get work visas, which meant they could be paid less than the minimum wage and didn’t receive social security.
We invested in new research by LEI Wageningen UR to assess the difference between workers on Fairtrade certified and non-Fairtrade certified banana plantations in the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Ghana. The study found positive results about Fairtrade, including economic benefits and job satisfaction, but also highlighted areas for improvement such as wages, Fairtrade Premium governance and awareness of workers’ rights.
In 2015, UK Fairtrade banana sales increased by 5% in volume, generating around £8.2M in Fairtrade premium for farmers and workers