From January 23rd to January 25th an international delegation made up of representatives from Banana Link, GMB, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), 3F (General Union of Danish Workers) and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Tobacco and Allied Workers (IUF) arrived in Honduras to follow up on the serious situation facing hundreds of workers in the melon plantations owned by the Irish fruit company Fyffes, located in the south of the country.
During their visit the delegation was accompanied by the Union of Agro-industrial & Allied Workers (STAS) and the Honduran Federation of Agro-industrial Workers' Unions (FESTAGRO). They met with workers from Melon Export SA (Melexsa) and Sur Agrícola SA (Suragroh), the Labor Minister Carlos Madero, the attorney presenting the lawsuits filed by the workers against these companies, and with local and national social organizations and trade unions. Despite repeated requests for a meeting with Fyffes subsidiaries in Honduras, the delegation never received a response.
Over the course of the visit the delegation was able to observe that there is an open and systematic violation of the most basic labor and trade union rights, often with the complicity of public officials; including the non-payment of minimum wage; long and extensive working hours; lack of affiliation to the social security system; lack of respect for the right to collectively bargain and freely organize.
It was found that, despite the threat of the company not to rehire for the new season that started in November, the vast majority of organized workers were indeed reincorporated. However, there have been no improvements in their working conditions.
It was noted with great concern that 35 organized workers were not included in the reinstatement, despite the hiring of new and inexperienced personnel. We believe that this decision reflects the anti-union nature of the company.
There are also several registered episodes that have put at risk the physical and psychological integrity of both workers and staff of the accompanying organizations.
For all of the above reasons
- We believe that there is an urgent need to open a dialogue between the collaborating parties, where the government and labor officials play the role of the facilitator. We invite the company to change the uncompromising attitude it has shown until now.
- Given the time that has elapsed without achieving major advances, the international campaign, “Freedom and Fairness for Fyffes Workers” has begun, within the framework of the Make Fruit Fair initiative (http://makefruitfair.org), which aims to raise global awareness of the serious situation faced by hundreds of Fyffes workers in the melon plantations in southern Honduras.
- The organizations that make up the international delegation reaffirm our commitment to the defense of labor, trade union, and human rights. In this regard, we will not rest until there is compliance with the labor legislation and international conventions ratified by the Government of Honduras.