Banana Link coordinated health and safety training initiative launched in Ecuador

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An initiative that aims to provide health and safety training to over 55,000 banana plantation workers was launched recently in Ecuador, the world's largest banana exporter. 
 
Banana Link, along with the NGO Solidaridad, have produced a set of Health and Safety training manuals, as part of the World Banana Forum's Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI), for use by companies, small producer and worker representatives in the banana trade. These are the first manuals of their kind in Ecuador, and by Ministerial Agreement, their use will be mandatory for all employers and producers in the banana sector in Ecuador.
 
The manuals were officially launched at an event last month (pictured below) attended by the Ecuadorian Minister of Labor, Raul Clemente Ledesma Huerta, the Minister of Agriculture, Rubén Flores, and representatives of the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the World Banana Forum and Banana Link. 
 
 
Training workshops are now underway in the main banana provinces of the country: El Oro, Guayas, Los Ríos, to train producers and non-producers so that they can teach the contents of the Manuals to other people, in a cascading effect. 
 
The results expected with these Manuals are:
  • Improving the prevention, management and control of Occupational Health Safety (OHS) in the plantations and farms in banana producing countries.
  • Effective collaboration on OHS among companies, workers and governments, through collective training programs, as well as the establishment and strengthening of committees on tripartite OHS at the plantation and national levels.
  • Strengthening of the tripartite dialogue process for OHS towards regulatory and institutional changes, and the ratification of ILO Convention 184.
  • Advances on OHS at the national and industry level through effective collaboration between government and private sector agencies and institutions.
  • Development of industrial experience on OHS and prevention and control, including psychosocial risks, gender issues, and participatory education methods
John Preissing, a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said that the manuals "would guarantee the workers' safety, especially the farmers' safety, and that it would make the agricultural workers and employers responsible for producing a banana of optimal quality without involving risks".
 
The Minister of Labor, Raul Clemente Ledesma Huerta, said that the manuals would "benefit workers in nearly 163,000 hectares of banana, which are spread over 4,787 producers that generate about 2 million jobs. He also said the idea was to seek a comprehensive improvement in the subject of labor economics and better development".
 
The executive director of the Ecuadorian Banana Producers Organisation, Eduardo Ledesma Huerta, said these Manuals would change the banana activity in the country. "Producers and, specially, workers, will incorporate all this knowledge to bring the production to a new scale, while improving the quality of the environment and the protection of all the people who work in the banana plantations."
 
The manual has also been translated into French and English for use in Cameroon, where a training programme for that country will be launched in September this year.