The Irish-based banana company Fyffes has been accused of having “no respect” for workers’ rights, amid allegations that staff on Central American fruit plantations are being mistreated.
GMB’s international officer Bert Schouwenburg, said: “Fyffes is an appalling employer that cares nothing for its workers who toil in boiling heat to produce the fruit that makes the company’s profit. They have no respect for domestic or international law governing workers’ rights and must be brought to book.”
The GMB trade union called for Fyffes to be thrown out of the Ethical Trade Initiative, which promotes labour rights, over reports of abuses by subsidiaries in Costa Rica and Honduras. In one case, 14 workers on a melon plantation, which is 60%-owned by Fyffes’ subsidiary Suragroh were allegedly hospitalised after being poisoned by noxious chemicals. The GMB said the female workers had not been given safety gear to protect them while handling fruit.
It said workers had also reported that they were not being paid the minimum wage, were denied extra pay for overtime and Sundays and were not given public holidays. Workers were also illegally charged for transport to the fields where they work. When they tried to form a trade union branch in January 2016, the GMB said, four members were abducted, threatened and held for 24 hours until they renounced membership.
In Costa Rica, Fyffes’ Anexco pineapple subsidiary was accused of running “a purge” of union members