SITRAP is currently receiving funding for it's work from:
- spreading the union's message to over 2,000 banana and pineapple workers in visits to packing plants, plantations and local communities.
- holding a recruitment fair at a major Del Monte banana plantation, increasing the prospects for a collective bargaining agreement, and starting to unionise workers at two independent plantations which have long been anti-union and almost impenetrable.
- achieving a significant growth in membership, recruiting 332 new members, increasing womens' membership by 5%.
- holding training workshops for 339 members, 63 of them women.
- getting 25 workers reinstated through legal action, and another 25 reinstated through direct negotiation with plantation management, and ensuring that 15 workers who previously lacked job security were granted stable employment through direct dialogue with the company.
Hostile environment for trade unions
SITRAP operate in a very hostile environment with employers, large companies and labour legislation that challenge freedom of association. SITRAP has developed a strategic approach to respond to the threat posed by Solidarismo organisations (pro-management workers’ associations) by creating committees to reach out to workers in order to explain and raise awareness of the benefits of independent trade unionism and collective bargaining.
Organising with limited resources is difficult, especially given the large distances that need to be covered on a daily basis between plantations. Organisers respond to all labour rights abuses on the plantations as well as preparing the cases presented to companies, social security and the labour courts. The workload is exhausting, as organisers struggle to attend all workplace meetings and maintain effective communications with union committees and activists.
Defending the rights of fruit workers
SITRAP survived efforts to completely destroy the trade union movement in the Costa Rican agricultural sector in the 1980's and 90's. There are approximately 70,000 people working in agriculture in Costa Rica and SITRAP has persisted in its struggle to organise and defend the rights of fruit workers:
- only 12% of whom are women
- who often fail to earn enough money to cover basic household costs
- who do not have their fundamental labour rights, such as the freedom to join a trade union, respected
- who can be victims of unstable employment, as both selective and mass dismissals are common tactics used by companies
- who are subject to intensive agrochemical use in tropical fruit export production which not only harms their health and that of their families and communities, but is having a devastating environmental impact on the eco tourist paradise of Costa Rica
SITRAP website (Spanish) - www.sitrap.net
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