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5 Feb 2021

BananaLink (UK)

Guatemala: Non-unionised banana workers earn less, face more precarious labour conditions and are more vulnerable to abuses, says Global Workers Rights report

“Trade unions make a big difference for Guatemalan banana workers”, 28 January 2021

...A new report – What Difference Does a Union Make?: Banana Plantations in the North and South of Guatemala – published by the Center for Global Workers Rights at Penn State University in the United States, illustrates the stark difference in pay and working conditions for unionised and non-unionised workers in the Guatemalan banana industry. Guatemala is currently the third largest exporting country of bananas in the world...The report, based upon a survey of over 200 workers (34% women), as well as extensive interviews, an examination of trade data, and a review of relevant prior research, found: Non-unionised workers earn less than half the hourly pay of unionised workers and work 12 hours per week more. Labour conditions are also more precarious for workers working for nationally-owned enterprises relative to enterprises directly owned by the big banana multinational brands…[;]...Non-union workers are 81 percent more likely to face verbal abuse than union workers. One of the most notable findings of the report being that 58 percent of women in non-union banana packing plants face sexual harassment at work compared to eight percent of women at unionised packing plants…[;]...All of the above labour rights violations take place at enterprises that are inspected by private certification programmes, including Global G.A.P. and Rainforest Alliance...These differences have also been reflected in Covid-19 provisions: in unionised plantations, for example, better physical distancing, worker transport and hygiene training have been negotiated with management, whilst relatively little protection has been provided in non-unionised plantations...