A recent study on working conditions on Guatemala’s banana plantations confirms the clear gains of union membership by comparing working conditions on unionized plantations in the north of the country with those in the south where union repression is widespread.
Unionized banana workers in the north of Guatemala:
- Earn more: USD 586 per month/USD 2.52 per hour in the north compared to. USD 308/USD 1.05 per hour in the south
- Work fewer hours: 54 hours per week in the north compared to 68 hours in the south, a 25.9% difference
- Have a 60 minute lunch break compared to a 20 minute lunch break
- Have safer workplaces and experience less sexual harassment and verbal abuse. According to the study, 58% of women face sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence at work and workers are 81% more likely to face verbal abuse on non-union plantations
Guatemala is the third largest banana exporter and has a long history of union repression with 101 trade unionists murdered between 2004 and 2018.
César Guerra of IUF affiliate SITRABI, explained: “Freedom of association is guaranteed in the Constitution, but in practice, workers in the south still face barriers to access their rights including the long history of violence against trade unions and the fear of losing their jobs.”