Honduras: Fruit company Fyffes accused of threatening labour activists & not recognising workers' union

The Agroindustrial Workers’ Union (STAS), representing workers in melon plantations in Choluteca in the South of Honduras, has accused Fyffes of violating their right to freedom of association by refusing to recognise the union.  Union leaders claim to have been threatened and stigmatised for their activism.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre contacted Fyffes to respond to the accusations; the response can be found below. 

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Company response
31 January 2020

Fyffes response

Author: Fyffes

...Fyffes is firmly committed to freedom of association. We absolutely do not discriminate against workers because of their union affiliation. We have hired STAS affiliated workers, workers with no union affiliation and workers affiliated with the legal unions.

The STAS union provided us with two lists of names, from last season and this season. We have hired every STAS-affiliated worker for whom there are payroll records and who are free to work. This amounts to 44 workers.

To ensure our workers understand freedom of association, we provided freedom of association training to all our workers through an independent non-governmental organisation called FUNDAHRSE that are experts in labour law, both international as all as Honduran law.

STAS was denied the right to bargain on behalf of workers at our farms by the Honduran Ministry of Labour. In Honduran law, there can only be one legal union per operation. The Honduran Ministry of Labour granted legal personality to a union for each of the farms Suragroh and Melon Export. Despite this, we are meeting with STAS regularly to find a way for them to represent their workers as a legal union...

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Item
22 January 2020

Honduran Workers Fight Union Busting Multinational

Author: Progressive

…The Agroindustrial Workers’ Union (STAS) has been trying to organize seasonal melon workers and  improve labor conditions in Choluteca for more than four years. It accuses Fyffes…of systematically violating the workers’ freedom of association.

In early 2019, after an international pressure campaign…Fyffes seemed to relent, agreeing to talk with the union and reinstate some workers allegedly fired in retaliation. But since then, the union says Fyffes has backtracked, refused to recognize the union, and instead supported parallel company-backed unions...

On the melon plantations of the Choluteca region, Hondurans face another transnational struggle, as a militant farmworkers' union clashes with a major fruit multinational for the right to represent the workers who feed U.S. consumers.

“The formation of those organizations was part of a pattern of anti union violence against STAS,” says the union’s general secretary, Moises Sanchez, in a phone interview with The Progressive from Honduras, conducted via a translator. “And the reason that they recognized those unions was not because they are a good farm or a good multinational corporation. What we want are exclusive bargaining rights for the temporary workers on the farms who don’t have a voice or a vote to improve their working conditions.”

Throughout this period, Sanchez has faced repeated physical and legal attacks…

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