Banana exporters and trade unions agree joint strategy to negotiate living wages

Banana exporting companies and trade unions in Côte d’Ivoire have reached an historic agreement on living wages. The deal, which is the product of a three-year programme coordinated by Banana Link with the support of retailers and the Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH, is between the four major banana exporting companies of the country and a dozen trade unions, who between them represent the great majority of plantation and packhouse workers.

Banana Link

It follows the formation of a bipartite working group in February, supported by the African trade association Afruibana, the International Union of Food and Agricultural workers (IUF) and Banana Link, to create a framework for the first-ever national collective bargaining agreement for the banana sector.

The framework was drafted after two days of intense dialogue between the producing companies and their two trade associations, OBAM-CI and OCAB on the one hand, and the recently established national trade union federation of banana workers, FETBACI, on the other.

Banana Link’s international coordinator, Alistair Smith, said: “The key players in the country have now agreed a solid national strategy to present to retail buyers and certifiers in the coming months.

“We are hoping that the retailers involved, and others who wish to join the movement, will recognise the importance of the route laid out to achieve living remuneration for all and will support through fair prices and other contributions to ensure that the process is a success”.

“The process is designed to ensure the involvement of all stakeholders, including European buyers, and these collective efforts should aim to close the gap between current wages and living wages for all our workers, while enabling buyers to do their part of ‘shared responsibility’ through better purchasing prices and/or dedicated contributions.”

Retailers are invited to Côte d’Ivoire in September to visit plantations, discuss the progress with the national plan with the companies and trade unions, and share concrete commitments of their support for closing gaps between actual wages and living wages for the lowest paid workers.