Sintrainagro said new agreement will benefit 22,000 workers across 251 banana farms in Urabá
Banana producers in Colombia’s Urabá region have reached a historic agreement with the country’s biggest agricultural union, Sintrainagro, that stands to benefit 22,000 workers from 251 banana farms.
In what Colombian banana association Augura is hailing as “one of the most outstanding cases of social dialogue for the improvement of labour relations and conditions in Colombia, the new Collective Labour Agreement means 92 per cent of the total number of workers are now unionised.
To mark the occasion an event was held in the municipality of Carepa, Antioquia, attended by special guests such as the Latin American Regional Secretary of the International Union of Food Workers (IUF), Gerardo Iglesias Aguirre and the representative of the Coordinating Committee of the Latin American Coordinating Committee of Banana Trade Unions (Colsiba) Gilbert Bermúdez Umaña, Carlos Galeano, director of the Urabá special office Ministry of Labour.
“As a union and in agreement with the employers, we managed to maintain stability for the banana workers for the next four years, and also continue to maintain the social funds for education, housing, and health. Although perhaps one of the most outstanding points is the significant salary increase we signed, which for the first year corresponds to 14 per cent,” said the president of Sintrainagro Guillermo Rivera Zapata.
The president of Augura, Emerson Aguirre Medina, commented: “For Augura it is essential to give continuity to the strengthening of labour peace, this agribusiness is the main engine of social and economic development in Urabá, benefits that are reflected in the department and the country.
“These agreements have supported the Living Wage, the acquisition of housing, the provision of health services, education, recreation, culture, and sports, which are quality of life for workers and their families, as well as productivity and competitiveness for the sector”.
Meanwhile, Gerardo Iglesias, regional secretary of the International Union of Food and Agricultural Workers for Latin America, said: “At the international level, this agreement is unique, because it is between a large union and a large banana association. It shows that in three decades trust and closeness between the union and the union has grown, and this agreement and the previous ones show worldwide that it is possible to reach agreements”.
The agreement means workers will receive a higher increase in the basic wage than the current legal minimum wage of the country, which for the first year will be 14 per cent, for the second year CPI vulnerable income, for the third year the CPI vulnerable income + 1.8 per cent and the fourth year the CPI vulnerable income, as well as the increase of the different funds dedicated to housing, education, recreation, culture, and sports. This reaffirms that it is one of the highest wages in the agricultural sector nationally. Augura reiterated the importance of guaranteeing a living wage to meet the needs and living costs of workers.