During the 1st years of the 21st century the Uraba region of Colombia was still notorious for violence fed by conflict between paramilitary and guerrilla groups, and unsafe for trade unionists. In the last decade significant changes have taken place. Worker legislature is in permanent dialogue with their employers and is able to freely talk their condition of employ.
Trade union SINTRAINAGO, now representing 18,000 workers in Urabá, of which 2,250 works at 25 Fairtrade certified plantations, has an on-going bargain relationship with the regional relationship of banana employers. Banana workers usually earn a living wage and on Fairtrade certified plantations, both union and non-union members, join forces by investing Fairtrade Premium for the benefit of all.
Fairtrade welcomes the progress on workers’ rights and the positive partnership between the employers, workers and Fairtrade staff. We make out the union relationship in the Urabá region as a model of industrial relatives which has succeeded in gaining positive benefits for workers.
In order to learn from this positive example for our work in other regions, Fairtrade International commissioned an independent study earlier this year. The aim was to see what Fairtrade and others can learn from the experience in Urabá, and how we can most excellent encourage and support positive and helpful industrial relations on Fairtrade farms and plantation in other regions.
While acknowledge that the farms in Urabá still face challenges, the study identify the progress made and the strength of the people there, who are positive and hopeful about their future.
Challenges and areas for development still remain in Urabá and we by no means want to paint a perfect picture, says Wilbert Intermarry, Senior Adviser, Workers’ Rights and Trade Unions Relations at Fairtrade International.