Honduras: Workers report alleged threats and harassment at Fyffes' subsidiary farm; claim Fyffes not respecting deal it signed with union

Few weeks after an agreement reached by the Union of agroindustry workers STATS (by its name in Spanish) and the fruit company Fyffes (subsidiary of Sumitomo) workers and the union accused the company of not complying with terms in the agreement, such as the reinstallation of unjustified fired workers. Moreover, they accused the company of supposedly harassing and threaten workers protesting for their rights. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Fyffes to respond, the response is available.

 

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Article
26 March 2019

Fyffes expelled from ETI over failure to address alleged labour abuses at melon plantation in Honduras

Author: Paul O’Donoghue, The Times

"Union row costs Fyffes its ethical recognition", 25 March 2019

...The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a UK state-funded body that promotes workers’ rights, yesterday announced that it had terminated the Irish fruit multinational’s membership due to concerns over the treatment of workers at a melon plantation in Honduras.

Peter McAllister, the ETI’s executive director, told The Times that Fyffes was the second company to ever be expelled from the body in its 21-year history.

The company was expelled due to the ETI’s concerns about freedom of association. Mr McAllister said that workers at the plantation, which is owned by Fyffes, faced barriers when attempting to join a local union called STAS...

 

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Company response
22 March 2019

Fyffes response

Author: Fyffes

There have been two union groups seeking recognition on our farm Suragroh in Honduras. Fyffes is committed to freedom of association and we will enter negotiations with unions that demonstrate they represent a reasonable number of our workers. One of those unions is SITRASURAGROH, which is affiliated with FESITRANH. This union has been in existence for some years and was granted legal personality by the Ministry of Labour in October 2018. We have begun negotiations with this union. STAS is another such union, affiliated with FESTAGRO, which is a recognised union in Honduras but its ‘sub-sectional’ has not been granted legal recognition by the Ministry of Labour as a union on our farms. Despite this, we have written to them in good faith to ask them to begin negotiations. Reports of threats and anti-union activity by the company are not correct. We constantly monitor compliance through regular internal and external audits on human and labour rights standards and have corrective action in place to remediate any non-compliances…

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Article
13 March 2019

Labor Unrest Is Erupting on Honduran Plantations—And Rattling the Global Supply Chain

Author: In these times (USA)

…[I]n the past few months, a surge of political action has erupted in Honduran plantations, as workers battle for union rights and rattle the global agricultural supply chain. Melon farmworkers had been pushing for a union contract with the Irish agribusiness Fyffes for more than two years, after the establishment of STAS (El Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares), a branch of the labor federation FESTAGRO. In partnership with the global labor advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), the union demanded full compliance with both domestic and international labor laws, accusing the company of systematic minimum-wage violations and denial of social insurance benefits… Fyffes appeared to relent, agreeing, at least on paper, to begin collective-bargaining negotiations with STAS…However, as the February deadline for the start of talks approached, ILRF accused Fyffes of stalling and lagging on a promise to reinstate unfairly dismissed workers. On February 12, ILRF reported that the company had “completely reneged on the agreement” and failed to respond to the workers’ grievances. Fyffe runs operations in Honduras through the subsidiary farm Suragroh…The violations had been festering for years. Labor advocates around the world have long condemned the treatment of the Suragroh workers…

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Item
30 January 2019

Fyffes Fails to Follow Agreement with STAS Union

Author: International Labor Rights Forum

Two weeks after Fyffes signed an agreement recognizing STAS (el Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares) as the legitimate union representative of workers employed at Fyffes’ melon subsidiaries in Honduras, union members are reporting harassment and intimidation…The agreement Fyffes signed with STAS on January 11 states that the company would rehire union members who had not been rehired for the current harvest season due to their union affiliation by January 21 and that collective bargaining negotiations between Fyffes and STAS would begin on February 5…Management had called them to report to company offices on January 19 to sign their work contracts, but when they arrived they were met with a management-orchestrated anti-union demonstration. These union members report being surrounded while in their van, being warned not to take out their phones, and threatened by a human resources manager participating in the demonstration that, “We will beat you and leave you pulverized.” These recent acts of harassment and intimidation come in the wake of a three-year campaign of anti-union violence perpetrated by Fyffes’ local management against STAS members. The systematic undermining of workers’ collective bargaining rights includes blocking Labor Ministry inspections, locking workers in offices, forcing them to resign, illegal firings, and psychological and verbal harassment towards affiliated workers…

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