Banana Worker Campaigns and Initiatives

World Banana Forum

In December 2009, stakeholders representing the banana industry formed the World Banana Forum (WBF).   The World Banana Forum includes trade unions (e.g. the Coordination of Latin America Banana Worker Unions, the International Union of Foodworkers), small farmer organizations, transnational banana companies (e.g. Dole, Chiquita, Bonita), retailers (e.g.Wal-Mart), governments, alternative trade groups (e.g. Transfair USA), environmental groups, and worker rights advocates (e.g. USLEAP, Banana Link, BanaFair). 

In its own words, "The Mission of the World Banana Forum is to inspire collaboration between stakeholders that produces pragmatic outcomes for the betterment of the banana industry; and, to achieve an industry-wide consensus of best practices regarding workplace issues, gender equity, environmental impact, sustainable production and economic issues."

The Forum has established working groups on issues ranging from sustainability to worker rights to fair pricing and a living wage. USLEAP is a member of the WBF Steering Committee.

The second global conference of the World Banana Forum was held in Guayaquil, Ecuador at the end of February 2012.

Dole Global Campaign

Dole’s denial of worker rights in the banana and flower sectors has prompted a global campaign against the company.  USLEAP joined with 74 other organizations in denouncing Dole and urging it to make a commitment “in practice” to respect the basic rights of workers. The campaign began in 2006.

Ecuador Labor Law Reform

Ecuador is the largest banana exporter in the world.  With low wages and very few benefits, it is leading the race to the bottom for other banana workers in the region.  Ecuador’s labor law has made it virtually impossible for banana workers to organize unions in order to improve wages and benefits.  In 2008, a new congress worked with President Correa to begin making significant changes in improving the right of workers to organize but not enough, according to a November 2011 report from the International Trade Union Confederation.  

Other Campaigns and Initiatives

Banana unions have in recent years asked for campaigns and initiatives to address gender discrimination and sexual harassment (2011, International Women's Day), to respond to violence against Guatemalan Del Monte banana union leaders (2011-12, 2007), and to support workers organizing at Bonita plantations in Ecuador.