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Ecuador is the world’s largest banana producing country. However, women represent only 5% of this workforce because they are viewed as 'high cost, high risk' employees. Women workers face discrimination, harassment, and multiple health and safety risks, and are often unaware of their rights and how to defend them. This is exasperated by trade union discrimination; less than 5% of Ecuadorian agro-industrial workers are organised.

A new banana workers union in Ecuador

SINUTRABE (the National Union of Ecuadorian Banana Workers) was formed in September 2017, to organise men and women across the industry in a country where union membership remains very low. 
The new union represents around two thousand workers, only some of whom currently enjoy collective bargaining agreements with their employers. The union is  involved in the current fight within the country against the attempts of the newly elected business-friendly government, to reverse nearly ten years of positive labour legislation and minimum wage increases introduced under former President Rafael Correa. 

SINUTRABE has replaced the more or less inactive National Federation of Agro-industrial Workers and Small Farmers (FENACLE), with whom Banana Link worked in partnership with for many years. Financial support from the GMB International Solidarity Fund and the charitable foundation of UIA Insurance had contributed to financing the work FENACLE's Women's Officer, contributing to acheiving:

  • an increase in women's membership in the union at the local level
  • increase in education activities and producing publications on subjects relevant to women, to help raise awareness and overcome the cultural barriers to women entering salaried employment in rural communities
  • successful negotiation of specific gender clauses in two CBAs
  • empowering women in leadership roles through increasing participation of women in the FENACLE Executive Committee, to support the work of the Women's Secretary locally 
  • creation women's committees in each local organisation, to collaborate with the Women's Secretariat at the national level of FENACLE

This support is now being provided to SINUTRABE, where FENACLE's Women's Officer has now taken on that role for the new union.

Banana Link support enables women's trade union workshop in Ecuador

Thanks to support from Banana Link, the new banana workers trade union in Ecuador, SINUTRABE, was able recently to hold its first to Women's Workshop for women representatives. 
The workshop, attended by representatives of the Association of Banana Workers in Pasaje Canton (El Oro Province) and from the Association of Workers in Guayas, Los Álamos and Pechichal, discussed labour issues facing women on the plantations, along with the new ministerial agreements on working practices in Ecuador's banana industry.



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