The IUF, COLSIBA and CHIQUITA announced today the signing of an historic agreement on “Freedom of Association, Minimum Labour Standards and Employment in Latin American Banana Operations.” Ron Oswald, General Secretary of the IUF; German Zepeda, coordinator of the Latin American Coordinating Committee of Banana Workers’ Unions (COLSIBA); and Steve Warshaw, President and Chief Operating Officer of Chiquita Brands International Inc., signed the agreement. The signing was witnessed by Juan Somavia, the Director General of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which hosted the signing today in Geneva.
Through this agreement, Chiquita, which is the largest employer of unionized banana workers in Latin America, reaffirmed its commitment to respect the core labor Conventions of the ILO, including the Convention on freedom of association.
Oswald described the agreement as “historic in the truest sense, meaning that it offers the possibility for workers and employers to seek a new basis for the resolution of problems in an industry which has throughout its history been highly confrontational.” He added, “We have an opportunity through this agreement to ensure that the relationships between Chiquita and its workers are always founded on mutual recognition and respect for human rights as set out in the conventions of the ILO. We hope that this agreement will serve as a model for relations generally between international union organizations and transnational companies.”
“This agreement signals our new partnership with the IUF and COLSIBA, based on mutual respect and openness, and it sets a new leadership standard for social responsibility in the banana industry,” said Mr. Warshaw. “It reflects our continued commitment to uphold the highest standards in all of our relationships with stakeholders, including our employees and their unions. We look forward to our increasing collaboration with the IUF and COLSIBA, which are important partners in our efforts to ensure both that we live up to these standards and that our workplace practices are as efficient and productive as possible.”
In the agreement, Chiquita also acknowledges its responsibility to provide safe and healthy workplaces, and Chiquita, the IUF, and COLSIBA agree to collaborate in efforts to further improve the health and safety of the Company’s banana operations.
A joint IUF, COLSIBA, Chiquita Review Committee will meet twice yearly to oversee the application of the agreement and review any potential areas of concern.