Fw: Banana Workers Strike

John O'Neill johnfergaloneill at eircom.net
Mon Aug 12 10:51:26 MDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: <passltd at eircom.net>
To: John O'Neill <johnfergaloneill at eircom.net>
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2002 10:14 AM
Subject: Banana Workers Strike

> Trocaire action: Banana workers - Ecuador
> Banana workers attacked for unionising.
> Workers on Los Alamos, a Noboa owned plantation in Ecuador (producers of
> Bonita Bananas) were violently attacked on 16th May 2002 by 400 armed
> after going on a peaceful strike against violations of their most basic
> rights.
> Several workers were injured due to gunshot wounds and many more beaten,
> terrorised, and thrown out of their homes. The Los Alamos workers had
> recently formed the first new trade unions in Ecuador in many years, but
> more than 100 workers were sacked for no apparent legitimate reason
> afterwards. These new unions are affiliated to the workers and small
> farmers' organisation, FENACLE.
> The unions' demands include reinstatement of all workers (including those
> fired that prompted the strike that began May 6th), payment of benefits as
> owed to the workers under the law, payment of lost wages during the strike
> and recognition and agreement from Noboa to negotiate with its legally
> recognised unions.
> Despite a powerful and growing international campaign targeting Noboa
> Corporation (owner of Bonita bananas) its director, Alvaro Noboa, has
> not agreed to negotiate with workers on his plantations. Nearly two months
> after admitting to hiring armed thugs that violently attacked striking
> workers on the Los Alamos plantations in Ecuador, workers report that the
> Noboa Corporation has not only refused to reach any settlement with their
> unions, but has also begun to form a company-friendly negotiating
> similar to a company union, in an effort to block negotiations. The union
> reports that the "company union" has members who don't even work on the
> Alamos plantations.
> The government of Ecuador has convened tribunals (a tri-partite body
> comprised of labour, management and government representatives to resolve
> labour disputes). For the first time in recent history, these tribunals
> been ruling in favour of the workers.
> In the tribunals, the Labour ministry has been supportive of the workers
> demands - workers say this support is the first seen in recent history.
> labour ministry has also worked hard in meetings to reach a mutually
> beneficial settlement - but Noboa has often walked out of these meetings.
> Alvaro Noboa is head of the Noboa Corporation and leading in the polls for
> presidential elections in Ecuador and one of the richest men in the
> Contact Noboa:
> urge Alvaro Noboa to stop the denial of the basic human rights of his
> workers, to fire those responsible for the attacks, and to negotiate with
> the unions in good faith, as required by law.
> E-mail: banoboa at bonita.com
> Fax: 00 593 42 444 093
> Postal address: Noboa Corporation, El Oro y La Ria, Guayaquil, Ecuador.
> Email the company lawyer, Dr Rafael Pino: rafpino at gu.pro.ec
> Contact the Labour Minister.
> Thank the Labour Minister for his attention to the attack on Los Alamos
> workers and for supporting the rights of these workers.
> Minister of Labour & Human Resources, Ab. Martin Insua
> Fax: 00-593-2-256-3469 or 00-593-2-250-3122
> E-mail: mintrab at accessinter.net
> * * * * *
> the Banana Industry in Ecuador
> Ecuador is the world's biggest exporter of bananas, yet until April 2002,
> less than 2000 workers were organised into trade unions.
> Ecuador has some of the worst conditions in Latin America's banana
> and its low-wage, no-benefit and non-unionised bananas are driving down
> conditions everywhere in the region, as companies 'race to the bottom' to
> find the 'cheapest' bananas they can.
> Producers are constantly pressured to produce at even lower prices,
> down wage levels and working conditions in plantations in an attempt to
> remain 'competitive'.
> Workers on many plantations live in difficult conditions. Families live in
> crude cinder-block houses with tin roofs and indoor plumbing is rare. The
> main earners receive $6 to $7 a day - within Ecuador's minimum wage of
> a month - but are often expected to work six or seven days a week, failing
> to earn the overtime pay set by law.
> The monthly minimum they earn falls far short of the $220 the government
> says a poor family of four needs to meet basic needs, so children go to
> work. "With my husband's salary, we did not have enough for school, not
> enough for food," said Patricia Cespedes, explaining why she had pulled
> nephew out of school at age 11 and sent him to work at Mr. Noboa's
> Many families say they earn so little that they must choose which of their
> children to educate and which to send into the factories and fields. Such
> economic necessity keeps 55 percent of Ecuadorian children from attending
> secondary school, according to the World Bank.
> The current price paid to a producer for a box of bananas in Ecuador is
> $2.90. That same box can then sell in an Irish supermarket for about
> with the supermarket taking more than a 40% share of the final price.
> Bananas are the most profitable item in a supermarket after petrol and
> lottery tickets.
> For further information and updated actions visit the following websites
> www.iuf.org
> www.usleap.org
> www.bananalink.org.uk

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