Fairtrade to investigate Kenyan picker wages

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Ed Leahy

BY ED LEAHY

Fairtrade to investigate Kenyan picker wages

The group has responded to Mail on Sunday claims of flowers sold in UK retailers being picked by workers below 'living' wage

Fairtrade to investigate Kenyan picker wages

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The Fairtrade Foundation has launched an investigation following reports of Kenyan fairtrade flower imports being picked by workers on less than a living wage.

Both Sainsbury’s and Co-op stocked flowers sourced a from Kenyan company called Oserian, accused by the Mail on Sunday of paying their workers 49p per hour.

This fell well below what the Fairtrade Foundation estimated to be a living wage for the region, at around £162 per month. Mail reporters spoke to workers struggling to pay the bills with a job that requires them to pick 2,400 roses during an eight-hour shift.

Michael Gidney, chief executive of the fairtrade foundation, said the organization were “shocked and saddened by these claims”, adding that although the workers were being paid the legal minimum wage, they had not yet achieved a living wage.

Living wage is a non-legal income level that benchmarks the income required to afford what is described as the ‘real costs of living’.

In a statement released yesterday, the foundation officially announced they were investigating the Mail’s accusations, saying a report will be made public on completion.

“Fairtrade is actively committed to working towards a living wage for all those within the Fairtrade system, which is why our standards require above-inflation increases in wages to close the gap each year between minimum and living wages.

“We are concerned about the allegations highlighted by the Mail on Sunday and want to see workers earn more and enjoy a better standard of living and decent working conditions, which is why we have launched an investigation into the situation on the ground, the details of which shall be made public once complete.”

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