Published: 16/10/2009

To mark World Food day, 2009, IUF is calling on all UN agencies and inter-governmental organisations working on food security to ensure that decent work in agriculture is central to strategies to ensure global food security and food rights for all.

General secretary Ron Oswald commented, “Too often the contribution of waged agricultural workers is over-looked, UN agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, consider only the role and needs of small farmers but this is not enough. Nearly half the workforce in agriculture is in employment – it might be casual, seasonal and precarious but there is any employer. Despite their contribution to feeding the world, these workforce are often amongst the most food insecure and having poor working conditions. Ensuring their food security through guaranteeing implementation of basic human rights like the right to belong to and be represented by a trade union must become a central plank of solutions to the world’s food crisis. These workers will then be able both to contribute to meeting the world’s food need and also enable to feed themselves and their families.

AWTG Coordinator speaking at a Swiss Government symposium om agriculture and food security pointed out that wages of USD 1 per day for many plantation workers made family food security impossible.

At the Asia/Pacific region food and beverage sector meeting (Bangkok, October 15, affiliates also issued a strong call to place trade union rights at the heart of the plans to roll back the rising tide of global hunger. A resolution adopted by the workshop said: “Without a clear capacity for workers to access the right to food, there is little possibility of the global problem of hunger fundamentally changing. This is why governments or companies that suppresses workers from organising independent trade unions to protect their rights and interests, contribute to the entrenchment of world hunger. Successfully achieving food security in the long term, ultimately, can only be done through food rights and food workers’ unions.

The same message was spelt out by affiliates taking part in national events to mark World Food Day. Martin Siecker of FNV-Bondgenoten pointed out that low wages and precarious work meant those workers who fed the world had the least resources to feed themselves and their families”.