Fairtrade Announces Sweeping Changes for Plantation, Estate Workers: New Criteria on Freedom of Association, Living Wage

Fairtrade International has overhauled its Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labor to strengthen the position of workers in Fairtrade certified plantations and estates.

The newly revised standard includes detailed requirements to guarantee workers’ right to freely organize and collectively bargain. Certified producer companies must not only declare this right publicly to workers, but allow unions to meet with workers and offer to engage in a collective agreement process with worker representatives if there is none in place.

Fairtrade International is also introducing a new methodology to set living wage benchmarks and a clear process for plantations to progress towards a living wage. The new methodology has been developed and benchmarks have already been set in some areas. Fairtrade International is now in the process of calculating rural living wage benchmarks for each region with Fairtrade certified plantations.

Fairtrade presented the new methodology and benchmarks to industry partners and at the recent European Conference on Living Wages to build wider agreement.

“Our work is far from over. This new Standard provides the support framework, and now we have to work hard to make sure workers have the capacity and the freedom to negotiate fairer workplaces,” says Wilbert Flinterman, Senior Advisor on Workers’ Rights and Trade Union Relations at Fairtrade International.

“We will continue building partnerships with global union federations and local trade unions to engage workers; at the same time we will continue pushing for fairer prices, and a better distribution of value along the supply chain.”

Other changes include new criteria to strengthen Fairtrade benefits for workers, including temporary and migrant workers. Workers will have more control on how they spend the Fairtrade Premium, the funds for workers’ development. Elected worker representatives will report expenditure to a general assembly of workers. Workers can newly use a portion of this money for cash or in-kind bonuses.

The new Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labor will be published January 15, 2014 and come into effect for companies in June.

The release of the new Standard for Hired Labor on plantations follows the release of the 2012 Strategy for Hired Labor and is part of Fairtrade’s ongoing work to improve and extend the benefits of Fairtrade to all waged workers involved in Fairtrade supply chains.

ENDS