Certifying the anti-unionism of Fyffes

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Due to repeated reports of violations of labour and union rights in the melon and pineapple plantations of Honduras and Costa Rica, in May 2017, Fyffes was suspended from the membership of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). The decision does not seem to worry Fair Traid USA, which last April gave the Fair Trade certification to Sur Agrícola de Honduras (Suragroh), subsidiary of Fyffes / Sumitomo in the country.
 
After an "in-depth evaluation of fair trade practices and a rigorous audit", Suragroh was recognized for its "social and environmental sustainability," according to a press release.
 
According to Fair Trade USA , the subsidiary of Fyffes / Sumitomo would be guaranteeing "safe and healthy working conditions, transparency, sustainable production and respect for biodiversity".
 
Nathalie Marin Gest , Director of Fruits and Flowers at Fair Trade USA , said the certifier is excited to help bring the melons of Suragroh to the market, "empowering agricultural workers even more to achieve the sustainable performance of their families and communities".
 
Surely this lady has never melon workers in Honduras, and if she did, as the saying goes: "There are none so blind as those who do not want see".
 
"All this is absurd. Fyffes continues to violate labor and union rights. They will not recognize our subsection but attempt to create two employers' unions", said Thomas Membreño, president of the STAS Union.
 
"Maybe there were small improvements in the treatment of women workers, but we know that this is because the suspension of the ETI brings serious economic and image problems. Workers continue to demand freedom of association and collective bargaining. Suragroh has not shown any interest in things changing" Membreño added.
 
Certifying violations
When hunger and the desire to eat come together
 
The trade union official said that the decision of Fair Trade USA is even more paradoxical considering the repeated episodes of intoxication suffered by the workers at Suragroh.
 
"I do not know with whom Fair Trade USA met and how they conducted the audit. Maybe they sat down with the administrative staff. We did not even notice. We have enough evidence of all the violations committed by Suragroh. We know that these certifiers are financed by the same companies. They are not credible. Very soon, we will present all this material we have. We are going to see if Fair Trade USA will have the shame of continuing to support their beliefs" said Tomás Membreño .
 
The president of STAS said he had no doubt that the transnational corporation will use the certification to try to clean up its reputation after the indefinite suspension of the ETI.
 
For the time being, the lack of progress in resolving the serious problems forced the ETI to extend the suspension while the meetings between Fyffes , Sumitomo and the IUF continue.
 
Giorgio Trucchi
REL-UITA