On 15th August, a framework agreement on trade union rights and sectoral dialogue was signed by seven banana producers’ associations and the main trade union in the sector, SITAG. This comes after several years of conflict between some of the associations and the union, and is the result of a long process mediated by COLSIBA, Fairtrade International, the Peruvian Fair Trade Producer Coordinating Body and Banana Link.
Reaching this agreement is a major step forward for the producers and the workers and provides the basis for a fair sharing of the wealth created by the organic banana export industry in what was a very poor province of the country. It is also hoped that, through the trust-building process that the agreement seeks to promote, producers and workers will sit down and negotiate collective contractual arrangements to the benefit of both parties.
The key clauses of the agreement give the SITAG union proper recognition and formalise the deduction of union fees by the producers’ associations and cooperatives. There are also three levels of conflict resolution, starting at the most local level between the union branch committee representatives and management, culminating with the “Dialogue Table” where representatives of the producers and the union meet at the highest level, with the participation of the Fair Trade Producers’ Coordinating Body (CNCJ) and Latin American Agroindustrial Workers’ Union Coordinating Body (COLSIBA).
There also provisions for ‘continuous dialogue’ and negotiation, as well as clauses covering health and safety and joint responsibility for Fairtrade certification (in the cases where the producers’ organisation is certified).
The seven grower organisations that negotiated the agreement are CEPIBO, APPBOSA, UBOIC, BOS, APBOS, COOPERATIVA HUANGALA and COOPERATIVA SAN VICENTE DE PIEDRA RODADA. Others though attended the formal signing ceremony in order to put their names to this historic agreement: APROBOQUEA, APBOSMAN and the emerging national growers’ organisation Junta Nacional del Banano.
Photo: trade union and producer delegates from seven associations at the signing in Sullana, Peru
Organic banana production in Peru
Peruvian organic banana exports to Europe, Canada, Japan and the United States have increased by 19%, reaching 143 million dollars in 2015 compared to the previous year, according to data supplied by the Banana Regional Technical Committee.
The president of the Regional Technical Committee of Organic Bananas, Eng. Marcia Herrera Reto, announced that 9,637 containers of organic bananas have been exported annually to various international markets, reaching 188,000 tonnes.
This sector counts for more than 7,000 hectares, about 6,500 producers and more than 30,000 families benefiting through direct and indirect employment, and has recorded an average growth of 23% per year over the last 8 years.
Herrera Reto pointed out that most of the banana acreage has an organic, Global Gap and Fairtrade certifications, and that the growth of exports in 2015 has been the result of both the large demand and the expansion of new plantations.
According to the office of the Banana Regional Technical Committee, foreign firms most frequently visit the north of the country given their interest in domestic products such as organic bananas, grapes and mangoes.
On 5 and 6 October, the 5th International Congress of Organic Bananas will be held in the auditorium of the National University of Piura.