New research just published by the Dutch Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) reveals a pattern of recurring labour right violations on farms certified by almost all the well-known sustainability certification initiatives, such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance.
For their report - Looking good on paper: Review of recent research on the impact of sustainability certication on working conditions on large farms - SOMO reviewed published evidence about the effectiveness of sustainability certification initiatives on labour conditions at large-scale farms in low- and middle-income countries from 2014-2017. This included Banana Link's report - Rainforest Alliance and the Discount Supermarkets: Low Prices and Easy Standards? - which looked at the standards and verification systems used by RA and at the realities of daily life on RA certified banana, pineapple and tea plantations, and concludes that RA certification cannot guarantee sustainability at the same low prices which consumers have come to expect from the discount supermarkets.
The SOMO research indicates that evidence that initiatives such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance actually improve conditions for farm workers remains very thin. Working conditions on many certified farms and plantations are still problematic. Workers face an array of challenges including poor pay, unsafe and unhealthy situations, and they are prevented from standing up for their rights. They conclude that changes and improvements are urgently needed for ambitious sustainability certification initiatives to help improve working conditions on farms across the developing world.