Hundreds of seasonal farmworkers marched today on the Japanese-owned billion-dollar multinational fruit company Fyffes to deliver a petition signed by more than 1000 melon pickers demanding their international labour rights, including their right to form their own independent union. The march comes after multiple accidents have occurred, including workers being hospitalized from toxic fumes in a Fyffes packing area, and a worker who was recently hit by a truck and died on the job.
- IUF affiliate El Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS), renewed calls for Fyffes, a leading exporter of fruit to the United States and Europe, to resume negotiations for a binding agreement to protect workers’ international labor rights: “Workers at these melon plantations want dignity and rights on the job,” said Tomas Membreño, STAS President, “Over one thousand workers are standing strong and fighting for a voice. We’re calling on Fyffes to heed their call and come back to the negotiating table and sign a labour rights agreement that enables workers to form the union they need to ensure safe working conditions and fair pay.”
- Workers need a union at Fyffes that will enable them to protect their health and safety on the job, bargain for fair wages and create more job security: Kelyn Estrada, a 26 year single mother of two who has worked in the melons for the last six seasons, said, “This year we’ve had to work even longer days and cover almost double the harvest area than before. We are bent over in the oppressive heat all day long and we still make so little that it’s hard to feed our families. We are fighting today to tell the company loud and clear: sign the agreement to respect our rights as workers and as human beings.”
- “We need an independent union so we can work with dignity and safety and support our families,” said Santos Felipa Salinas. “I have worked in the melon plantations of Fyffes since I was fourteen years old. For 26 years I’ve given my labour to this company but this year I was locked out of work and had no way to support my family. I was so desperate I decided to try to cross the border and go to the United States, but I didn’t make it so now I’m here to fight to move my family forward.”
IUF General Secretary Sue Longley stated, “The right to organize is the enabling right that ensures unions can win safe workplaces and that workers have a voice on the job. The IUF calls on Fyffes to respect international labour standards, especially those on freedom of association, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety.”